Irish PM Leo Varadkar meeting with Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel on Friday
Photo: Twitter/Leo Varadkar
Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, was in Luxembourg for a brief visit on Friday, when he met with prime minister Xavier Bettel (DP) and signed a loan to transform the Dublin Airport.
Prior to the meeting, Varadkar had visited the European Investment Bank (EIB) to sign a 20-year loan of €350m earmarked for an overhaul of Dublin Airport, to include runway and baggage screening improvements, plus the upgrade of its fleet of vehicles to electric.
The occasion marked two milestones: not only was it the first visit of a Taoiseach to the EU bank, it was also the largest loan given by the latter for Irish transport.
Bettel: “Crucial questions still unsolved”
During the joint press conference on Friday evening, the two leaders reiterated support in bilateral cooperation when it came to Brexit.
Calling Ireland a “reliable partner”, Bettel added that “solidarity was our strength, because we were united”, referring to Ireland and Luxembourg.
“With the departure of the UK from the EU, we lose an important ally, especially when it comes to single market issues, but also when it comes to trade and business friendliness,” Bettel said, adding that it was simultaneously an opportunity for the grand duchy and Ireland to reinforce cooperation.
Both government leaders, however, highlighted the real possibility of a no-deal Brexit. PM Varadkar jokingly said of the two countries that they’re “both small countries with big neighbours that we mostly get on with, but sometimes cause us trouble”. While Ireland was “continuing to develop plans”, Varadkar said it aimed by July to publish an updated no-contingency plan to inform the greater public on developments.
The Luxembourg prime minister also reminded attendees of the Good Friday Agreement, calling it “an important landmark not only for Ireland but also for our whole continent, and for Europe. It’s important we do all we can to avoid that old wounds are opened up again...”
Bettel called Varadkar’s visit over the National Day celebrations a “proof of friendship” and added he was looking forward to his Irish counterpart to experience it.
On Saturday, Varadkar will visit the European Court of Justice, where he plans on meeting with judges. Prior to his visit he was in Brussels for the EU Council which saw the adoption of the EU's 2019-2024 strategic agenda focused on climate, disinformation and external affairs, particularly with regards to Russia and Turkey.