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Varadkar favours processing irregular migrants outside EU

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that he is in favour of processing applications for irregular migrants in countries outside of the European Union.

“A huge number of people who enter the European Union irregularly pass through countries around the edge of the European Union,” said Mr Varadkar.

“We want to make deals with those countries to help us secure our borders better, and in some cases to process applications in those countries.”

The Taoiseach was speaking in the Romanian capital, Bucharest, where he is attending the centre-right European People’s Congress as it gears up for the European Parliament elections in June.

The European People’s Party’s (EPP) election manifesto includes a proposal to conclude agreements with third countries to ensure that “asylum seekers can also be granted protection in a civilised and safe way”.

The manifesto states the EPP is committed to the “fundamental right to asylum” and outlines that the party wants “to implement the concept of safe third countries”.

Mr Varadkar said that any applications would only be processed in countries that were “compliant with the Geneva Convention, and the European Convention on Human Rights”.

The Taoiseach declined to name any non-EU countries which could process asylum applications.

“Those agreements have to be made, and I wouldn’t like any country to hear me announce the fact that we’re discussing a deal with them,” said Mr Varadkar.

He said that the EPP wants to come to agreements with so-called transit countries which migrants travel through in order to reach the EU.

Delegates at the congress in Bucharest are voting this morning on Ursula von der Leyen’s nomination as the party’s candidate for the role of European Commission president, a position she has held since 2019.

“I think Ursula has done a great job in her first five years and I’d like to see her get a second term,” said Mr Varadkar.

‘Responsibility to work with next US President’ – Taoiseach

The Government has a responsibility to work with whoever is elected as US president in November, Mr Varadkar said.

“Whether it’s President Biden re-elected, or President Trump re-elected, we’ll do our best to work with whoever the US president is,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said that he thought that some comments made by Mr Tump in the past had been “highly inappropriate” but “we have to respect the decision of the American people”, he added.

Yesterday, Nikki Haley, Mr Trump’s only challenger for the Republican party’s nomination for the US presidency pulled out of the race, leaving Mr Trump as the sole Republican candidate for the White House in November’s election.

Mr Trump swept to a series of Republican primary wins across states on Super Tuesday earlier this week.

Mr Varadkar said that he believed that “the European Atlantic relationship can remain strong no matter who is president in the White House,” but added that “Europe needed to “stand on its own two feet”.

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