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Ireland: Bilateral Relations to Germany Ireland

29.03.2019 - Article

Political relations

Relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Ireland are close and friendly. Since Ireland joined the European Community (now the European Union) in 1973, the two countries have also worked closely together at the European level.

In 1990, during its Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Ireland made a significant contribution to bringing about German reunification.

In December 2017, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney announced his intention to further extend and deepen relations with Germany, in particular against the backdrop of Brexit. Ireland’s review of its bilateral relations with Germany, which was published in April 2018, contains 23 recommendations on this.

The trustful relations between the two countries are reflected in bilateral visits such as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s trip to Berlin in March 2018 to visit Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. In April 2018, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas travelled to Dublin for talks with his Irish counterpart Simon Coveney. In August 2018, Coveney was a guest speaker at the Ambassadors Conference in the Federal Foreign Office. In November, bilateral interministerial consultations were held at State Secretary level in Berlin. The two sides agreed on a joint action plan to strengthen bilateral relations. Foreign Minister Maas visited Dublin again in January 2019. Members of the German Bundestag and of German regional parliaments also visit Ireland for talks.

Economic relations

Economic relations between Germany and Ireland go back a long way. The German‑Irish Chamber of Industry and Commerce was established in 1980. Twenty thousand people are employed by 300 German firms in Ireland.

Germany is one of Ireland’s largest trading partners. Ireland has a trade surplus with Germany (exports of 12.2 billion euros compared with imports of 7.4 billion euros in 2018). In 2018, 7.4 percent of Ireland’s exports went to Germany, putting Germany in fourth place among the destinations for Irish exports behind the UK, the United States and Belgium. Germany also ranked fourth among the countries of origin, supplying 8.7 percent of Irish imports. Germany’s main exports to Ireland are motor vehicles, chemical products, electronics and machinery. Germany’s main imports from Ireland primarily include pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, electronics, food, and measurement and control technology.

Cultural Relations

Germany and Ireland enjoy good cultural relations, which are largely maintained without any government involvement. There are town twinning arrangements and exchange initiatives. The level of interest in German culture in Ireland was demonstrated by the popularity of the events marking the centenary of Heinrich Böll’s birth in 2017.

As Germany’s official cultural institute, the Goethe‑Institut has an office in Dublin. Recently redeveloped and expanded, this office was reopened in September 2018 at a ceremony attended by Minister of State Michelle Müntefering and Irish Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan. Ireland’s seven universities, one technical university and 11 institutes of technology (comparable with Germany’s universities of applied sciences) maintain a number of partnerships with German universities. Seven German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) lecturers and a DAAD German language assistant currently work at Irish universities. A Centre for Irish‑German Studies was established at the University of Limerick in 1997. The Federal Foreign Office and the Educational Exchange Service of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs invite Irish school pupils to Germany every year.

St Kilian’s German School in Dublin is an international school at which subjects are taught using the Irish curriculum. After obtaining the Irish Leaving Certificate in combination with the German Language Certificate II (DSD II), graduates of the school can apply directly to study at German universities and other higher education institutions. The close cooperation with the Lycée Français d’Irlande (LFI) on the Franco‑German Eurocampus, which includes joint instruction in some subjects, serves as a global model.

The Lutheran Church in Ireland has international members in its congregation and is headed by a pastor sent from Germany. For decades, it has been actively engaged in the ecumenical movement in Ireland.

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