Donald Tusk: Europe must show it is not detached from reality

Taoiseach discusses contentious Apple judgment with European Council president

European leaders need to show that they are "not detached from reality" by controlling immigration and improving the security of their citizens, president of the European Council Donald Tusk said in Dublin on Wednesday.

Mr Tusk, who is head of the European Council of national leaders, is visiting European capitals before next week's summit in Bratislava which will discuss the future of Europe in the wake of the Brexit referendum.

However, European leaders will not discuss how Britain should leave the European Union until London triggers the formal leaving mechanism Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Mr Tusk affirmed.

The Taoiseach also said that he had "a conversation" about the Apple judgment with Mr Tusk.


However, Mr Kenny added that Apple was not a matter the two men formally discussed during their meeting.

"I had a conversation with president Tusk at the beginning of our meeting here today and I explained to him the reasons and the background to the situation insofar as the European Commission making its decision about Apple is concerned. That is not a matter we discussed over the meeting because it is not the responsibility of the president of the council," said Mr Kenny.

"We are not going to discuss the details of any Brexit situation at Bratislava because the president and leaders have made it perfectly clear that there can and will be no negotiations either about the United Kingdom leaving the European Union or about a new relationship between Europe and the United Kingdom until article 50 is actually triggered by the British prime minister," Mr Kenny added.

The two men discussed the implications for Northern Ireland, though the official statements did not contain any of the assurances about the post-Brexit status of the Border, or recognition that Ireland was a special case, that followed the Taoiseach's meeting with French president François Hollande in July.

Mr Tusk said that he understood that the effect of the Brexit decision on Ireland was “disorientating”.

"The consequences of this are also serious for the situation in Northern Ireland. The Taoiseach and I are working closely together to ensure that your country does not suffer from a decision that it didn't make," Mr Tusk said.

The Taoiseach, he said, would be the first leader he would brief after his meeting with Mrs May in London on Thursday.

Economic regeneration

Mr Tusk described Ireland’s economic recovery as “really remarkable” and said that Ireland was “a symbol of effective crisis management”.

Mr Tusk also seemed to indicate that Bratislava is likely to take in discussions about tighter border controls and a greater emphasis on security at a European level.

“The Bratislava summit is not about Brexit per se. It is about bringing back political control of our common future. People are turning against what they perceive as an irrational openness. They see the world around them getting more chaotic. Uncontrolled migration, terrorism, injustices linked to globalisation - we have to confront such issues with real political leadership . . . what must be delivered is a sense of security and order.

“We in Europe cannot build a political community only on the concept of mandatory and total openness for everyone. The union also has to be about protection – protection of our freedoms, our security, our quality and way of life . . . There is a balance to be restored. I think the union is one the best tools we have to do it.”

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times