European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen met with Taoiseach of Ireland Leo Varadkar in Dublin on 15 January. They discussed among others Brexit, the European Green Deal and the negotiations on the EU's future budget.
President von der Leyen thanked the Prime Minister for the leadership and cooperation in the process of reaching the Withdrawal Agreement with the United Kingdom. She praised the hard work, patience and unity of everybody in Ireland. “Without the work of the government, without the work of the politicians in the Parliament, the civil service, the whole country coming together, this would not have been possible”, she said at the press conference.
Von der Leyen stressed that the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland now needed to be implemented, saying the EU would watch over the implementation very closely.
“We are very happy about the recent agreement on restoring power sharing in Northern Ireland. Now we enter a new phase of negotiations. We are going to be ambitious and we want to have a very close partnership with our British friends”, she said adding that it was now the time to ‘figure out the room that we will have between the UK and the EU's Single Market'.
In her speech at the dinner hosted by Taoiseach of Ireland she expressed conviction that the European Union and Ireland will continue to thrive and that our mutual solidarity was there to stay. “Big companies - from the tech sector to finance - are moving to Ireland because they are attracted by the Single Market”, she said. “Your potential is great: as a bridge towards America, through your start-ups, but also as an economy that is capable of adapting to new conditions.”
Von der Leyen also spoke about the Green Deal and the opportunities it brings to farmers, businesses and investors. “The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy”, she said explaining the growth model which is not consuming, but one that returns more to the planet, and which is just for the people.
She underlined that Europe needed Ireland now more than ever. “We need your entrepreneurship, we need your resilience, we need your free spirit you are so famous for”, she said while stressing equally what Ireland stands to gain from being part of ‘our common European family'.
“After the great crisis and a long recovery, this can be a decade of progress and of transformation for Europe. Ireland in the 20s will continue to be the green heart of our precious Union”, von der Leyen concluded.