Wednesday

26th Jul 2017

New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits

  • Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar (c), with his colleagues from Malta and Germany (Photo: Council of the European Union)

French president Emmanuel Macron was not the only novice arriving in Brussels this week for his first ever EU summit, or European Council meeting.

Ireland's new prime minister, Leo Varadkar, also had his summit debut.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Varadkar: 'It's just politicians in the room. There are no officials there with you' (Photo: Council of the European Union)

“It's an interesting experience, being in the European Council for the first time,” he said.

He told journalists on Friday (23 June) that the format is much more dynamic than he was used to.

"It is very informal," Varadkar said, noting that government leaders call each other by their first names.

"Leo" was elected prime minister earlier this month, but is not new to the EU stage.

Before he became prime minister, he was minister for transport (2011-2014), minister for health (2014-2016), and minister for social protection (2016-2017).

The Irish politician represented his country in EU ministerial meetings, called Council of Ministers (or Council of the EU). That format was “very different” from the leaders' summit gathering, Varadkar said.

“Because it's just politicians in the room. There are no officials there with you,” he said.

“Council of Ministers tends to be people reading out statements to each other. This is very different. It's very dynamic.”

“It's people talking with a document in front of them, making changes to those documents, and changing the language and wording, and the meaning, without reference to officials or advisers,” said Varadkar.

“I really felt that the elected politicians were in control, which isn't the way you necessarily feel all the time in politics. It's a very good dynamic in that sense.”

The Irish leader praised the fact that the debates were “very frank”.

“People don't speak in riddles, people are very frank in terms of their views on things. Where there are differences of opinion, there are differences of opinion.”

Analysis

So what if the Irish PM is gay?

Taoiseach's sexual orientation has grabbed headlines, but history shows that gay politicians seldom promote LGBT rights.

Gay, under-40 politican to rule Ireland

Leo Varadkar said his election as leader of the ruling part was an "unlikely story". He assured he would stick to the EU position in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

Investigation

Inside the Code of Conduct, the EU's most secretive group

The informal group of national officials that is in charge of checking EU countries' tax laws is now working on the first EU blacklist of tax havens, amid critiques over its lack of transparency and accountability.

Investigation

Inside the Code of Conduct, the EU's most secretive group

The informal group of national officials that is in charge of checking EU countries' tax laws is now working on the first EU blacklist of tax havens, amid critiques over its lack of transparency and accountability.

Ombudsman asks for more details on Barroso case

Emily O'Reilly has asked the EU Commission to say what former commissioners should be allowed to do after they leave office and explain why it took no decision over its former president's controversial new job.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  3. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  4. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  5. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  6. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  8. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  10. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  11. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  12. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way