Why did Ireland join the European Union

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Great EU solidarity with Ireland on Brexit

When it comes to Ireland, many immediately think of the harp and the Celtic cross, the patron saint St. Patrick and the national symbol of shamrock. But the Irish are also known for their forward-looking pragmatism. Ursula Quill, who works in the Irish Parliament, can even see something positive about Brexit: She was impressed and touched by how great EU solidarity was for Ireland in the Brexit negotiations - especially from Germany. The EU stood firmly by Ireland's side in order to maintain the open border with Northern Ireland, which is so crucial to peace on the island.

In a smaller country like Ireland, Germany quickly looks like an overpowering economic power, says Quill. In summer 2019, at the invitation of the Federal Foreign Office, she traveled to Berlin, Potsdam and Leipzig as part of a group of young talents - the “Emerging Voices” of the renowned Irish think tank IIEA - to learn more about Germany and about German-Irish relations to discuss. During the talks she felt that Ireland and Germany could exchange ideas about the future on an equal footing. There is enormous interest in each other on both sides - and in a strong European Union. She experienced that again when she met a delegation of young members of the Bundestag in the Irish Parliament in October last year.

Cooperation against the coronavirus

Germany and Ireland are working closely together in the global crisis: around 150 Irish people have so far been able to return to Ireland on board German return flights from 29 different countries. In addition, a large number of Irish Covid-19 tests were evaluated in German laboratories and Irish-based German companies in the medical industry are involved in the response to Covid-19 on site. This is one of many signs of European solidarity, which is crucial for the cohesion and future of the European Union.

Ireland is more pro-European than any other EU country

According to the latest Eurobarometer surveys, approval of the EU is higher in Ireland than in any other member state: no less than 81% of Irish people consider EU membership to be a “good thing”. Nevertheless, Paul McKeon, who works for the Irish Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission and also took part in the “Emerging Voices” trip to Germany, warns that the EU must reach even more people in Ireland and convince them of the advantages of EU membership. He would like the EU member states to address disadvantaged groups with their policies through an inclusive social policy. With a view to the pressing global and intra-European challenges, he sees the dawn of a new era in the EU and is convinced: “Now is exactly the right time to strengthen our relations”.

German-Irish Action Plan: With the Deutschmobil through Ireland

The younger generation in particular is the focus of the Joint Action Plan that Germany and Ireland adopted in November 2018. One of the pillars is the strengthening of youth exchanges through programs such as the Irish “Emerging Voices” trip to Germany. Another important instrument for expanding bilateral relations is language training. After Brexit, the Irish government wants to strengthen the foreign language skills of students.

With the Deutschmobil, which went on tour again in autumn 2019, Germany is picking up on this interest. The demand can hardly be met: the Deutschmobil is booked out months in advance. Schools across Ireland look forward to half-day interactive workshops on the German language and culture - given by a German language teacher. Interest in German language skills is also growing in the Irish ministries. Together with the Irish Foreign Ministry, the German Embassy Dublin has therefore set up a “German Language Network” in Dublin, in which employees from Irish ministries and authorities can meet regularly to speak German and attend German cultural events together. A prominent guest at the first reception in the residence of the German embassy: The State Secretary in the Irish Foreign Ministry, Niall Burgess, who studied in Würzburg as a DAAD scholarship holder. After the reception there was still on the program to deepen German language skills: Binge-watching of the "Weissensee" series.


Europe United - Germany and its partners ahead of the EU Council Presidency 2020

Germany will take over the EU Council Presidency from July 2020. We are committed to a sovereign, strong and solidary Europe, we want to position Europe more strongly: in climate protection, digitalization and industrial policy as well as in European foreign and security policy, multilateralism and migration. But what does that mean in concrete terms in cooperation with our European partners? The series "Europe United - Germany and its partners before the EU Council Presidency 2020" presents our cooperation with our European partners. Germany's partnerships are just as diverse as Europe itself, from Tallinn to Lisbon, from Stockholm to Athens. Each article will shed light on one aspect of cooperation and show where we are already working closely together and moving forward together in our priorities for the Council Presidency and in the priorities of the EU's Strategic Agenda.