Germany – Ireland Joint Plan of Action for Enhanced Bilateral and EU Cooperation - Report on the Implementation of the Second Joint Plan of Action

13.06.2024 - Press release

The EU Directorate-General of Auswärtiges Amt and the Irish Embassy in Berlin jointly prepared this report.

Background and Overview

In November 2018, then Foreign Ministers of Ireland and Germany, Simon Coveney and Heiko Maas, agreed on the first Germany – Ireland Joint Plan of Action (JPoA) for Enhanced Bilateral and EU Cooperation. Initially, the JPoA encompassed cooperation between the Irish and German Ministries responsible for agriculture, economy, foreign affairs and finance. The plan was considered at the first set of Secretary General (SG) – State Secretary (StS) level consultations in Berlin on 15 November 2018.

Following the success of the first JPoA, it was agreed by all participating Ministries to update the plan with new projects. The Ministries of Defence in Ireland and Germany then also joined the process. The second version of the JPoA was endorsed at the online SG-StS level consultations on 9 February 2021.

Overall, very significant progress has been made in implementing the different projects set out in the JPoA. The process has also generally led to greater coordination and exchange of information by Irish and German counterparts across a wide range of areas, including beyond the JPoA.

In advance of the June 2024 joint SG – StS level consultations, this short joint report, was prepared for publication. It sets out the major achievements and the context in which they took place. As much of the plan has been implemented and given the changed global context since 2021, it was agreed to develop a third JPoA iteration for endorsement at the joint consultations in June 2024.


The 2021 JPoA consists of three sections: principles, platforms and projects. The projects were divided into seven further sections on 1) foreign policy cooperation, 2) UN Peacekeeping and EU CSDP cooperation, 3) EU policy cooperation, 4) research links, 5) political and parliamentary exchanges, 6) people-to-people and education exchanges, as well as 7) promotion of the German language in Ireland.

I. Principles

Work under the second JPOA was guided by five principles shared by both sides: (i) shaping the future of the EU; (ii) acting likeminded in the world; (iii) strengthening economic ties; (iv) fostering people-to-people links; and (v) seizing opportunities. These principles have remained valid and unchanged since their adaptation in the first plan.

II. Platforms

The JPoA established a number of new formats to enhance Irish-German dialogue as an essential pre-requisite to increased cooperation. These include:

  • Irish-German Secretary General / State Secretary consultations took place twice, on 15 November 2018 and 9 February 2021. Planned consultations were postponed in November 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and in autumn 2022 due to scheduling constraints. Consultations between the Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the State Secretary of the Federal Foreign Office took place in October 2023 in Berlin.
  • The German-Irish Joint Vision Forums led by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik) and the Institute of International & European Affairs (IIEA) took place regularly; in May 2019 (Berlin), October 2020 (online), April 2022 (Dublin) and on 7 November 2023 (Berlin).
  • Cross Departmental consultations took place regularly at Head of Unit level (including between DFA International Security Policy Unit and FFO CSDP Division in July 2022; Middle East Units in summer 2022 and 2023).
  • Consultations between EU Directors-General (numerous occasions, most recently in November 2023)-

Since the adoption of the second JPoA many high-level political visits in both directions took place. This included a State Visit by Federal President Steinmeier to Ireland in October 2021, a visit by the then Taoiseach Martin to Germany in February 2022, as well as a visit by German Foreign Minister Baerbock to Ireland in December 2022. In 2022 and 2023 respectively, Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Defence, Simon Coveney and Micheál Martin attended the Munich Security Conference. Minister of State for Europe Byrne represented Ireland at the German Federal President’s Citizen’s Festival (Bürgerfest) where Ireland was partner country in August 2022. Ireland’s Minister for Rural and Community Development Humphreys visited Berlin in January 2023 when Ireland was partner country at the Forum for Future of Rural Development. The Irish Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and Euro Group President Donohoe visited Germany in March 2023. Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Martin also visited Berlin in January 2024. The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste both attended the 2024 Munich Security Conference. The last two and a half years also saw a large number of German Federal and State Parliamentary Committee visits to Ireland and Irish Government Ministers and parliamentarians to Germany.

III. Projects

Significant progress has been made across all seven project areas. In most cases, projects are now completed. This report highlights the main achievements. Some of the highlighted projects are as follows:

1. Increase foreign and security policy cooperation and highlight shared values

Ireland and Germany coordinated closely on top priorities in foreign and security policy. A strong pattern of exchange through both in-person and virtual meetings has been established across a number of structures and themes. This includes cross-departmental consultations at senior official level (Heads and Deputy Heads of Units) on a variety of issues, e.g., strengthening multilateralism in the context of the UN, the Middle East, the European Union Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) including the 2022 Strategic Compass and 2023 Civilian CSDP Compact, and on enhancing the sustainability of our work (Greening Foreign Ministries). We have also worked closely together to support Ukraine in response to Russia’s illegal war of aggression, contributing multifaceted support for Ukraine.

Ireland and Germany continue to work closely together on Climate and Security, including through the German led Climate for Peace Initiative launched in October 2022. At the end of 2022, the Climate Division of the Federal Foreign Office together with the Embassy of Ireland in Berlin launched a Climate and Security Network in Berlin across Berlin-based Ministries, Embassies and Think Tanks. This collaboration underlines the importance of the nexus between Climate and Security and the active network continues to grow.

At COP28 in December 2023, Ireland joined the German initiated Climate Club, an intergovernmental forum for exchange on industry decarbonisation which serves as an enabling framework for increased collective action across diverse geographies.

The first diplomat exchange took place from November 2021 – August 2022 when an Irish Diplomat was seconded to the Auswärtiges Amt. This programme is being continued in 2024 and beyond.

2. Create a step change on joint engagement regarding policy issues of common interest

Cooperation on Financial Policy Issues

Working level engagement took place on regulation of investment in crypto-assets between officials in the two ministries.

Meetings were held between German and Irish officials where the European Commission Retail Payments Strategy, the review of the Second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and the Digital Euro were all discussed. Officials with responsibilities for these matters engage en marge of working groups and through the Permanent Representation in Brussels.

An exchange at working level took place between Irish and German counterparts on financial stability.

Initial and ongoing engagement on national financial literacy strategies took place, following OECD best practice.

Cooperation on Agricultural Policy

The 3-year research project “MEDICow” started in November 2021 with funding of €1 million between Teagasc and ATB-Potsdam. “MEDICow” is a two-pillar research project that aims to develop an improved mastitis risk assessment model for dairy cows by using an innovative multisensory approach, digitalisation and artificial intelligence. The project will act as a lighthouse project and blueprint for the European Partnership for Animal Health and Welfare (EUP AHW). Significant research progress has been made in the project, with the hiring of two doctoral students and one joint publication so far currently in press.

Other research-related cooperation included establishing student/post-doc exchanges between institutions in Ireland and Germany, and strengthening collaborative research in Europe between German and Irish Institutions. The latter included Irish-German research collaboration partnerships receiving co-funding from DAFM and BMEL for 6 projects in 2023, and so far in 2024, 10 projects with German and Irish research partners have submitted pre-proposals under the First Call of the Agroecology Partnership.

On the topics of plant health and forestry, DAFM hosted five BMEL officials for an in-person bilateral meeting in Dublin from 18-20 January 2023, including site visits. Officials continue to engage on topics of interest post this bilateral meeting, and a follow up visit to Germany is planned for October 2024 under the third iteration of the JPOA.

Several exchanges of views also took place between DAFM and BMEL officials on the topics of Brexit, animal welfare, and exploring options to reduce peat use in horticulture.

Cooperation on most of these topics, along with additional topics, will continue under the third iteration of the Joint Plan of Action.

Cooperation on Economic Policy Issues

Germany is one of Ireland’s largest trading partners with overall bilateral trade in goods amounting to almost €30 billion per annum making it Ireland’s third largest trade partner, only slightly behind the UK. Trade between our two countries has doubled over the last decade.

Ireland has four state agencies supporting enterprise, investment, food and tourism growth located in Germany. Irish companies employ 38,000 people in Germany while German companies employ 15,000 people in Ireland.

Exchanges on Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) took place between BMWK and DETE following which Ireland joined the IPCEI Microelectronics and Communication Technologies and Health. Exchanges also took place on space at the technical level as well as on the role of women in business.

Cooperation on Energy Policy Issues

Ireland and Germany continued to work closely together through the North Seas Energy Cooperation. In particular, Ireland's Presidency of NSEC in 2022 concluded with Dublin Declaration in September 2022 with Germany joining Ireland and the seven other NSEC countries to agree to reach at least 260GW of offshore wind energy by 2050, representing more than 85% of the EU-wide ambition of reaching 300GW by 2050 as set out in the EU strategy for offshore renewable energy. The Ostend Declaration signed in April 2023 built on Ireland’s presidency and countries set ambitious combined targets for offshore wind of about 120 GW by 2030 in the North Seas.

An exchange between Eirgrid and the four German Transmission System Operators (Amprion GmbH, TransnetBW GmbH, Tennet TSO GmbH, and 50Hertz) on experiences on grid renewables integration and system operation and best practices for information, dialogue and participation took place in April 2023 hosted by Embassy Berlin. Ireland and Germany worked closely together during their respective memberships on the UN Security Council on Climate and Security issues, including through the tabling by Ireland and Niger of a UN Security Council Resolution on Climate and Security in December 2021 which despite being vetoed by the Russian Federation was co-sponsored by 113 member states.

3. Highlight and strengthen research links

A joint Declaration of Intent on Cooperation in the field of green hydrogen was signed by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in May 2023.

4. Deepen German – Irish political and parliamentary links

Following the end of Covid-19 travel restrictions, the number of visits in both directions has steadily increased. In 2023 alone there were thirteen Irish ministerial visits to Germany.

Political contacts will be further deepened where Ireland opens its second Consulate General in Munich this summer covering the southern states of Bavaria and Baden Wuerttemberg.

In September 2022, German political advisors from federal and state level across all five parties with Irish sister political parties (CDU, SPD, Greens, FDP and Left) visited Ireland. Their programme included briefings by a number of Irish Departments on Ireland's foreign, economic and climate policies, as well as a visit to Northern Ireland.

In May 2023, eight young Irish politicians (from FG, SF, FF, Labour, Greens and Social Democrats) visited Berlin to engage with, among others, Bundestag members of all parties, the Bundestag EU Affairs Committee, the German Federal Foreign Office, as well as energy, political and security experts.

The past two and a half years have shown an increasing level of parliamentary links and visits by parliamentary committees from both the federal and state level. For instance, in February 2023 the Bundestag European Affairs Committee led by Chair Anton Hofreiter visited Dublin, meeting also with Tánaiste Micheál Martin.

The Bundestag's German-Irish Parliamentary Friendship Group is planning to visit Ireland in June 2024.

5. Deepen people-to-people and educational exchanges between Ireland and Germany

In January 2024, the Tánaiste launched, in the presence of Minister of State for Europe and Climate Dr Anna Lührmann, Zeitgeist Irland 24, a €2.5 million investment by the Embassy of Ireland, Berlin, Culture Ireland and Tourism Ireland. This season will present over 200 events showcasing a new generation of Irish artists throughout 2024. The season is raising the profile of Irish artists and arts across Germany through a high-quality programme and building new relationships with German programme partners.

The most recent Creative Pathways initiative titled Déad presented in Berlin and Dublin (at the Goethe Institut) the collaborative and interdisciplinary work of 12 artists from six notable colleges in Ireland and Germany. 

Irish Studies academics were awarded the DFA Irish Studies teaching post in Wuppertal between October 2021 and March 2022, in Tübingen between October 2022 and March 2023, and in Würzburg between October 2023 and March 2024. The recruitment phase for the fourth installment of the project at the University of Saarland between October 2024 and March 2025 is underway.

6. Promote the German language in Ireland

A German language network within the Irish Civil Service was established under the co-sponsorship of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the German Embassy in Dublin as part of the Joint Plan. This network is active and will be further developed.

The Goethe Institut Ireland has introduced the 'Unternehmen Deutsch' competition for secondary and university students, who engage in creative ways with the German language in the context of business and trade.

The renewed closer cooperation between Ireland and Germany has contributed to a wide range of projects that went beyond the scope of the first and current JPoAs. Many of these were successfully implemented and will be included in the third iteration of the action plan.


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