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Maas in Ireland: solidarity among the EU27 the first priority  Ireland

Foreign Minister Maas meets the Irish Foreign Minister Coveney

Foreign Minister Maas meets the Irish Foreign Minister Coveney, © Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

12.04.2018 - Article

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visited Dublin today (12 April). Ireland, which is particularly affected by the impact of Brexit, is a key partner for Germany in the EU.

Avoiding a hard border

Foreign Minister Maas with his Irish counterpart Coveney
Foreign Minister Maas with his Irish counterpart Coveney© Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

Until 1998, the brutal Northern Ireland conflict raged on the British part of the “Emerald Isle”. The Good Friday Agreement, signed almost exactly 20 years ago, marked the end of that conflict. Reconciliation among the parties to the conflict was made easier not least by the fact that the border between the British and Irish EU partners had lost some of its significance as a result of European integration. The withdrawal of Great Britain from the EU now raises the question of how this border will be regulated in future. Germany supports Ireland’s desire to avoid the return to a hard border on the island.

Tackling EU reform together

Support for the EU among the Irish people is extremely strong. That is understandable: when it acceded to the European Community in 1973, Ireland was one of its poorest members. Today, annual income per capita amounts to almost 54,000 euros. Germany is one of Ireland’s most important trading partners. One goal of Foreign Minister Maas’ visit to Dublin is to further intensify cooperation between the two countries. From Germany’s perspective, a particular concern is that Ireland should also be closely involved in the planned reforms in the EU.

Building on partnership

In a bilateral relations review process, the Irish Government has looked into what practical steps could be taken to build on the German‑Irish partnership. The findings will be a central item on the agenda of the talks between Foreign Minister Maas and his Irish counterpart Simon Coveney.

Foreign Minister Maas signing the guest book of Dáil Éireann* (the lower chamber)
Foreign Minister Maas signing the guest book of Dáil Éireann* (the lower chamber)© Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

The project rests on a sound historical foundation, for today Germany still has grateful memories of Operation Shamrock, under which Ireland took in 460 German children immediately after the Second World War.

After his visit to Ireland, the German Foreign Minister will travel on to the United Kingdom.

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Bilateral relations

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