(Strasbourg) “The European ideal has always been inspired by a spirit of optimism and confidence in a better future. This ideal has been challenged, but not impaired. Based on the results of the past, we have new propensity to face the challenges of the future”. This was stated by Leo Varadkar, taoiseach – i.e. Prime Minister – of Ireland, as he discussed the future of Europe in the premises of the European Parliament in Strasbourg today. This is the first in a number of meetings designed to spark off a wide debate within the EU’s institutions and among EU citizens about the future of the integration process. In welcoming the taoiseach, the president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, actually said: “Since the day I have been elected, exactly one year ago, I have insisted on the importance of bringing Europe close to its citizens, who are looking for solutions to create jobs, handle migratory flows, and strengthen our security and defence”. Varadkar addressed several issues: democracy in Europe (he proposed transnational groups for the 2019 Parliamentary election), Brexit (“we were and are against Brexit”), the problem of migration and the reform of the asylum system. He urged everyone to complete the economic and monetary union, to create a common defence system. “Like Ireland in the past, the EU should be able to change and adapt to face the new challenges, in the interest of all citizens”. The Prime Minister of Croatia will be in Strasbourg in February; that of Portugal in March; French President Macron will be in the EU premises in April.