Taoiseach Enda Kenny is greeted by Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin
Taoiseach Enda Kenny leads a trade mission to Germany today and will have a bilateral meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as extensive engagements with key trade, tourism and investment partners.
The Taoiseach will have a series of meetings in Frankfurt today with Irish state agency client companies based in Germany. He will also officially open the offices of Collen Construction, an innovative and ambitious Irish firm which has been operating in Germany for four years and is now establishing a permanent presence in Frankfurt. Later today, he will deliver a keynote speech to a major gathering of over 150 business guests. Germany is Ireland's fourth largest merchandise trade partner, with total bilateral trade of approximately €25 billion, and the Taoiseach will emphasise Ireland's continuing support for investment, trade and tourism between our two countries.
The Taoiseach then travels to Berlin, where he will meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Discussions are expected to focus on Brexit, as well as the future direction of the European Union, and international relations more broadly. The Government's intensive programme of strategic engagement with EU partners and the EU institutions over recent months has ensured a good understanding of Ireland's unique concerns arising from Brexit, and these were reflected in the draft EU negotiating guidelines which were circulated on Friday, following the UK's formal notification of its intention to leave the EU. The two leaders will exchange views on the negotiating process ahead and how best to work together, as part of the EU team, on a range of issues.
On Friday (7 April), in addition to meeting with Irish companies and their German partners, the Taoiseach will take part in a round table event organised by the Association of German Chambers of Commerce, which will include representatives of the German-Irish Chamber of Commerce, German businesses and trade organisations. Discussions at this event will focus on the impact of Brexit from the perspective of Irish and German businesses. Later that day, the Taoiseach will lead a meeting with representatives of German think-tanks active on European, foreign and economic policy issues. This will provide an opportunity to share views and impart key messages on Ireland’s perspectives in relation to Brexit and the future direction of Europe. The Taoiseach will also take part in a Bord Bia event, which will include the official launch of the Irish Beef Food Truck, and a meeting with a major premium wholesaler which supplies Irish-sourced products.
In all his meetings, the Taoiseach will highlight and explain Ireland's particular concerns arising from Brexit in relation to our trade and economy; Northern Ireland and the Peace Process; the Common Travel Area; border and citizenship issues; and the future direction of the EU. He will highlight Ireland's strong ongoing commitment to EU membership, and our intention to work constructively and calmly, as part of the EU team, towards a close and positive future relationship with the UK.
Speaking ahead of the visit, the Taoiseach said:
This visit is part of my ongoing intensive engagement in preparation for the upcoming Brexit negotiations, which will be so crucial for Ireland. Chancellor Merkel is a close friend and partner of Ireland in the EU, and my meeting with her provides an opportunity for us to have a detailed discussion on Brexit following Prime Minister May's letter last Wednesday and the circulation of draft EU negotiating guidelines. The Government's engagement on Brexit has been crucial in ensuring that our concerns are properly understood by our partners all across the Union, and I am pleased that these have been reflected in the draft guidelines. However this is just the start of what will be long and complex negotiations. Our preparations also include focussing on new trade and investment opportunities, and during my visit to Germany, I will also meet with key business representatives and clients of our state agencies. Germany is the largest economy in Europe and a major part of Ireland's trade architecture. Visits of this kind are an essential element of supporting jobs and growth in the Irish economy.