Euro leaders welcome Leo Varadkar and pay tribute to record of Enda Kenny

Euro leaders welcome Leo Varadkar and pay tribute to record of Enda Kenny

European leaders have marked the changing of the guard in Irish politics by welcoming new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and championing the record of his now predecessor Enda Kenny, writes Political Correspondent Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.

In separate statements European Council president Donald Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker noted the new leadership, saying Ireland’s priorities will remain those of the EU.

Euro leaders welcome Leo Varadkar and pay tribute to record of Enda Kenny

In a letter to Mr Varadkar after his Dáil election earlier today, Mr Tusk congratulated Ireland’s new leader and welcomed him into the EU leaders group.

"On behalf of the European Council, I would like to congratulate you on your appointment and wish you and your Government every success. Ireland is rightly admired for its strong economy, vibrant and open society, and stalwart commitment to Europe.

"Addressing its unique circumstances is a priority for the first phase of [Brexit] talks... and I am fully committed to working closely with you in this respect.

"I look forward to welcoming you to the European Council next week, where we will discuss security and defence; jobs; growth and competitiveness; migration; and external relations," he wrote.

In a separate letter sent out on Monday to Mr Kenny but only released this afternoon, European Commission president Mr Juncker said the Mayo TD was "shortly stepping down after a long and successful period at the helm" and described Ireland’s economic recovery under Mr Kenny as "remarkable".

"I wish to sincerely thank you for your contribution to the work of the European Union and you own unwavering support for the European project. I have enjoyed working with you on the range of challenges facing Ireland and the European Union.

"I wish you, Fionnuala and your family all the best for the future," he added.

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