Charles Michel, the President-elect of the European Council, has reaffirmed the European Union's support for Ireland during the Brexit process. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met with the President-elect of the European Council, Charles Michel, in Government Buildings this evening.

Speaking at a joint media conference with Mr Varadkar, Mr Michel said: "I would like to again reaffirm our solidarity with this country (Ireland) because I know it is important to have this unity in our work in order to try and guarantee this unity."

Mr Michel also stated that although the EU was ready to negotiate a free trade agreement with the UK, it wanted to promote a level-playing field.

He said: "We are ready to be loyal in these negotiations and we will be transparent. We will also be very committed in order to promote the level playing field in order also to protect the Single Market and to try to find the best possible agreement for the future relationship and I hope it will be possible in the next months to reach an agreement. I think it will be excellent for our common future."

Mr Varadkar said that they would like to ensure there is a good relationship between the EU and the UK.

He said: "I think one thing we'd like to see, certainly in the years ahead is ensuring that we have a good relationship between the EU and the UK, no matter what happens, particularly bringing Brexit along."

Mr Varadkar also said he will discuss key EU issues with the President-elect such as climate change and the EU's seven year budget.

"As I mentioned, an EU budget over the next few years that protects programmes that have worked well in the past like the Common Agricultural Policy, like Erasmus and Horizon, but also finds new resources to deal with new challenges, such as climate action, such as migration and such as security and I think that's in line with the President-elect's own thinking", adds Mr Varadkar.