Sat, 29 Feb 2020

DUBLIN, Ireland - The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has arrived in Dublin on her first official visit to Ireland.

At a press conference soon after her arrival she said it would ultimately be up to Britain whether or not it was to ask for more time to negotiate a trade agreement with the European Union after it leaves the EU. There is only one of the two who can ask for an extension and that is the United Kingdom. We will see mid-year where we are at, Von der Leyen told the Dublin press conference.

The EC president was welcomed to Ireland by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. On the agenda for talks are the next stage of the Brexit negotiations, the new Common Agricultural Policy, funding for Northern Ireland and border counties, and the President's EU Green Deal.

"I'm very pleased to welcome President von der Leyen on her first official visit to Ireland. She's set out an ambitious agenda for the Commission's new term, and significantly the EU's solid support for Ireland on Brexit is going to continue," the taoiseach said Wednesday.

"I particularly welcome her European Green Deal, which is her vision for a carbon neutral Europe by 2050.

"I'm looking forward to discussing the next phase of Brexit negotiations, including the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and the UK. I want to ensure that CAP is adequately funded, which is really important for farmers and rural communities," Varadkar said.

"I'll be raising our request for a 1 billion Peace Plus programme for Northern Ireland and the border counties, and will brief her on the breakthrough at Stormont and the restoration of power-sharing."

"I will tell President von der Leyen that Ireland is right behind her EU Green Deal, but will also argue for a Just Transition fund to benefit locations such as the Midlands," the taoiseach said.

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