by Miceál O’Hurley
Berlin & Dublin (Virtually) — Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney T.D., yesterday agreed a second Joint Plan of Action for Enhanced Bilateral and EU Cooperation between Ireland and Germany with the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, Heiko Maas.
The Joint Plan was published following the second formal session of German-Irish consultations at the level of State Secretaries and Secretaries General. The second formal session of State Secretary/Secretary General consultations between Ireland and Germany took place in virtual format on 9 February 2021 under the joint chairmanship of Secretary General Niall Burgess of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the State Secretary of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Miguel Berger.They were joined by the Secretaries General and State Secretaries of the following government departments:
- The Department of Foreign Affairs
- The Department of Finance
- The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
- The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
- The Department of Defence
- The German Ministry equivalents of the above Departments
Following the success of the first Joint Plan of Action, which was agreed in 2018, this new plan sets out the principles for continuing enhanced cooperation between Ireland and Germany, including a number of new and continuing bilateral projects to be undertaken in both countries over the lifetime of the Plan.
Commenting on the new Joint Plan, the Minister for Foreign Affairs said, “I very much welcome the approval of the second Joint Plan of Action as a further significant development in enhancing our bilateral relations. Ireland enjoys a particularly warm and fruitful relationship with Germany. As we have seen through the first Plan, there is scope to further engage and increase our cooperation across a wide range of areas, including important topics such as EU-Africa relations and Climate Change. We have the potential to advance the interests and values that we share as friends and fellow members of the European Union”.
The Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, Heiko Maas also commented on the close relations between Germany and Ireland in his remarks, “The Joint Action Plan which we agreed today shows how close relations are between Ireland and Germany. We do not just want to cooperate more closely at bilateral level – on research and innovation, as well as on finance issues or agricultural policy. We also want together to help to make Europe more able to act and to strengthen the United Nations and the rules based multilateral order as a whole.”
At a meeting in Dublin in April 2018, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney had agreed to launch the process for adopting this Joint Plan of Action for Enhanced Bilateral and EU Cooperation. The paper was adopted at the meeting on 15 November by State Secretary Andreas Michaelis, his Irish counterpart Niall Burgess and representatives of other ministries from both countries.
The aim of the successive Plans of Action is to provide a framework for intensifying bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries in the EU and on foreign policy. For example, Germany and Ireland want to pursue more joint goals in Africa. There are also plans to carry out joint projects in the fields of financial stability, climate protection, agricultural policy and the promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Continued Close Relations
The close bilateral cooperation between Ireland and Germany in this endeavour aimed at further consolidating bonds between like-minded EU Member States strengthens the EU’s internal and external solidarity, capacity and commitment, even more so after Brexit saw the departure of the UK from the European stage.