Saturday 20 October 2018

Ireland's post-Brexit relationship with UK will require new, specific agreement - Varadkar at Davos

Leo Varadkar . AP Photo
Leo Varadkar . AP Photo

Donal O’Donovan in Davos

Ireland wants an EU relationship with the UK after Brexit that will require a new and specific agreement rather than adapting any existing model, the Taoiseach has said.

However, Leo Varadkar said the UK itself needs to speed up proposals for a post-Brexit relationship with the European Union, including specific details of what can work.

Swiss police officers observe the surrounding area from atop the roof of the Davos Congress Hotel during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Photo: Reuters
Swiss police officers observe the surrounding area from atop the roof of the Davos Congress Hotel during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Photo: Reuters

“Its been quite some time since the referendum, we really need to get down and dirty with the detail ,” he told Bloomberg TV at the World Economic Forum in Davos .

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is also at the event in Switzerland, where she’ll meet US President Donald Trump later today.

Ireland wants as close as possible an EU relationship with the UK after Brexit, the Taoiseach said.

“I think it will be a specific agreement for the United Kingdom. Of course as Ireland we want that to be as close as possible - we would have it ‘Norway-plus’ but I think we have to get into the detail now of what that means,” he said.

 “It’s difficult to compare it to Norway, which is a relatively small country... or a country like Canada, which is on a different continent,” he added.

On his first visit to the Davos event the Taoiseach said he was pleasantly surprised to see activists “inside the tent” alongside business and political leaders.

He’s due to participate in a panel discussion later on the future of Europe alongside the prime ministers of the Netherlands and Portugal, and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, who's also attending the Forum, faces a potentially tougher panel. He's due to discusses corporate tax reform with EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici and the head of Oxfam, which in the past has said Ireland should be considered a tax haven.

The Taoiseach attended a dinner on Wednesday night hosted by Bill Gates, the Microsoft billionaire, where guests also included Malala Yousafzai, the young Nobel Prize winner and campaigner for educational rights for girls in particular.

He's hosting Ireland's main Davos event tonight, a dinner organised by the IDA and attended by invited heads of multinationals.

In relation to the EU Apple tax ruling, Leo Varadkar said damage had been done to Ireland’s reputation.

“It certainly hasn’t been helpful.”

He said Ireland will collect the €13bn from Apple demanded by the European Commission in the second quarter of this year, but does not accept the ruling which is being appealed.

“We will collect the money but we are absolutely disputing the case.”

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