Leo Varadkar attends final European Council meeting as Taosieach

Leo Varadkar attends final European Council meeting as Taosieach

OUTGOING Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is in Brussels today for a two-day meeting of the European Council.

It will be the last such meeting he will attend as Taoiseach after he announced yesterday his intention to resign from the position and as leader of the Fine Gael party for “personal and political” reasons.

Today he will focus on updating his colleagues in Brussels on his recent meetings with President Biden and other senior US figures during his St Patrick’s week visit to the US.

He will also weigh in on debates around the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East as well as the killing of Alexei Navalny.

“This is a packed European Council dealing with some of the most important issues in the world today like Ukraine and Gaza,” he said.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announcing his resignation yesterday

“I will update colleagues on my recent meetings with President Biden and other senior US figures,” he explained.

“We need a strong, united EU voice on the crisis in the Middle East,” Varadkar added.

“I will repeat Ireland’s message that the people of Gaza cannot be subject to collective punishment for the appalling crimes of Hamas, and call for an immediate ceasefire, the unconditional release of hostages, and a massive increase in aid.”

The two-day meeting began with a working lunch with UN Secretary General Guterres today.

Tomorrow the Taoiseach and other leaders will attend a ceremony to mark the 30th anniversary of the European Economic Area, which allows Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to be part of the EU Single Market.

The final session will be a Euro summit on economic issues.

Currently leader of Ireland’s three party coalition government – made up  of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party – Mr Varadkar’s shock resignation does not trigger a general election.

Instead, he will be replaced in that role by the party member selected by his peers to become the new Fine Gael leader.

Announcing his resignation yesterday afternoon, Mr Varadkar said: "When I became Party Leader and Taoiseach back in June 2017, I knew that one part of leadership is knowing when the time has come to pass on the baton to someone else. And then having the courage to do it. That time is now.

"So, I am resigning as President and Leader of Fine Gael effective today, and will resign as Taoiseach as soon as my successor is able to take up that office."