EU leaders to attend summit in Malta

The Taoiseach is set to highlight Ireland's "concerns arising from Brexit"

The Taoiseach is joining other EU leaders for an informal summit in Malta today.

Enda Kenny is set to hold bilateral meetings with several of his fellow leaders on the margins of the main summit.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Taoiseach said: "As always, he will use the opportunity to highlight and explain Ireland's particular concerns arising from Brexit. 

"He will call for a balanced approach to the many challenges facing us, and will stress the importance of making further progress on the economic agenda - jobs, growth, investment, Single Market, Digital Single Market - which make a real difference to the lives of our citizens," the statement adds.

Theresa May will attend part of the EU Presidency Summit in Valletta but will not be present when the rest of the leaders discuss Brexit.

However, she is also expected to meet leaders individually for talks on the UK's planned exit from the union.

The main topic on the summit agenda will be how to deal with the continuing refugee & migration crisis in the Mediterranean.

According to the Taoiseach's office, "agreeing actions to prevent people smuggling, and developing our external migration policy, in accordance with international law and human rights principles, is a priority for the European Union".

Mrs May is expected to promise that British efforts to tackle the crisis will continue after the country leaves the union.

Her priorities include supporting refugees close to the homes they have been forced to leave and deterring economic migrants from trying to cross to Europe by sea. Mrs May also wants to return those who arrive in Europe with no right to remain.

Yesterday, Italy and Libya struck a deal in an effort to stop people setting out for Europe from Libyan shores.

Italy's coast guard has coordinated the rescue of hundreds of thousands of refugees & migrants in the Mediterranean over recent years, and it is believed more than 5,000 people died while attempting to make the perilous crossing in 2016 alone.

Additional reporting by IRN