The Taoiseach was pleased to join French President, Emmanuel Macron, for a working lunch today at the Élysée Palace. The leaders discussed the increasingly strong links between Ireland and France, as well as some of the major challenges facing the EU and the global community.
They welcomed growing connections between the two countries, including under the Joint Plan of Action agreed between them, last year, and noted that relations had never been better.
They welcomed the signing of contracts to build an electricity inter-connector between Ireland and France – due to be completed in 2026 – which will be the first to link Ireland to the grid on the continent of Europe. It will deliver greater security of supply and will help drive the green transition to which both leaders are firmly committed.
They emphasised their ambition to further increase trade and tourism between Ireland and France, and agreed that they will work together on an integrated sail-rail ticket option, to support greater exchanges, especially of young people.
The Taoiseach and President made clear their unequivocal support for the people of Ukraine, and condemned Russia’s relentless inhumane attacks on civilian infrastructure. They agreed that the EU would continue to stand with Ukraine, and to provide humanitarian support as it faces into a long and difficult winter.
They condemned Russia’s use of energy as a weapon in waging its immoral war and noted that, in response, the EU has shown its firm resolve in acting to protect its citizens and enterprises, underpinning security of supply and mitigating the worst impacts of dramatic prices increases. They looked forward to further progress on this at the December meeting of the European Council.
At a time when many are predicting a general global downturn, they agreed that the EU must continue to play to it its strengths – driving forward with the digital and green transformations; maintaining our global competitiveness; and advancing a dynamic, values-driven trade agenda. Following their recent participation at COP27, both leaders emphasised the importance of working together to address the climate challenge, particularly for those countries that are less well off, and welcomed the progress made on ‘loss and damage’.
They also agreed that the EU must renew and strengthen our partnerships with key allies, not least the US and the UK. The Taoiseach expressed his thanks to the President for France’s unswerving solidarity with Ireland throughout Brexit. Both leaders agreed on the importance of a new and vital partnership with the UK and believe that there is now a critical window of opportunity to resolve issues relating to the Protocol.
The Taoiseach and President restated their deep commitment to the European project, which remains the bedrock of prosperity and well-being on our continent.