Monday 21 May 2018

Ireland can rely on Germany's 'unconditional' support during Brexit negotiations - Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes Taoiseach Leo Varadkar REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Shona Murray

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Ireland can “rely” on Germany for “unconditional” support during Brexit negotiations.

In her most unequivocal statement on Irish concerns over British withdrawal from the EU, Ms Merkel said “Ireland may rely on us and it is unconditional – that is a matter of fact per se.”

She was speaking during a press conference in Berlin with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today ahead of this week’s EU summit in Brussels.

The chancellor was responding to a question about Ireland’s resistance to the European Commission’s tax proposals, which are due to be released tomorrow.

New digital tax plans targeting multi-national tech giants will be put to each member state to adopt.

There is a question about whether Ireland will be pressurised into adopting them in exchange for unyielding political support over Brexit.

But the chancellor said Ireland’s support was “unconditional, per se.”

The Taoiseach said he and the chancellor discussed digital tax and said “the positions of the two countries weren’t that far away from each other”.

Both agreed the need for digital tax giants to “pay their fair share”,  but that there was “no consensus yet” on how to do that.

During the hour-long meeting which was conducted In English, they discussed Brexit, trade and digital tax.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and German Chancellor Angela Merkel address the media after talks at the chancellery in Berlin
(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and German Chancellor Angela Merkel address the media after talks at the chancellery in Berlin (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

“Germany understands Ireland’s “unique concerns over Brexit including the importance of protecting the Good Friday Agreement”, said Mr Varadkar.

Ms Merkel said they would look carefully at British proposals over Brexit.

The Taoiseach briefed Ms. Merkel on his meeting with US President Donald Trump, in particular Europe’s concerns over escalating trade wars.

“We discussed matters of trade and Ireland and Germany supporters of a free world trade, we do not want protectionist measures to be put in place, we want to be in line with the multilateral trading system of the WTO, said the chancellor after the meeting.

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