Taoiseach to meet with three European leaders this week to discuss Brexit negotiations

Leo Varadkar is beginning the week with a visit to the Croatian capital Zagreb

Taoiseach to meet with three European leaders this week to discuss Brexit negotiations

Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is visiting three European capitals this week to discuss Brexit and 'other significant EU issues'.

The visits come amid the increasingly urgent EU negotiations with the UK over Brexit, as the two sides work to reach a deal before an October deadline.

Mr Varadkar will begin his European tour today with a visit to the Croatian capital Zagreb.

There, he is due to meet with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and  Speaker of the Parliament Gordan Jandrokovic.

Tomorrow, he'll travel to Romania for meetings with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Prime Minister Viorica Dãncilã and President of the Chamber of Deputies Liviu Dragnea.

On Thursday, meanwhile, the Taoiseach will meet the new Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome.

In a statement, Mr Varadkar's office said he will use the trip to "develop bilateral trade and cultural relations with all three countries".

As part of the European trip, the Taoiseach is also due to visit this year's Venice Biennale architecture exhibition, which is being curated by Irish architects Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara.

Brexit plans

Over the weekend, Britain's new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab warned that his government could refuse to pay the so-called 'divorce bill' to Brussels of there is no trade deal.

Last week, the Cabinet here met to discuss Brexit contingency plans.

Mr Varadkar said Ireland needs to "change the gear, and up our preparations" for the UK's exit from the EU, amid the ongoing political turmoil in Westminster over the British government's plans.

The Irish government has confirmed that hundreds of people will be hired to prepare ports and airports for Brexit