The German Chancellor has said Germany and Europe will stand by the Irish in Brexit talks and said ongoing negotiations will have to find a way to protect the single market while also avoiding a hard border in Ireland.
Speaking after Brexit talks with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Ms Merkel said: “Every step of the way we will stand together, we will walk together.”
She said: “We do hope that the intensive discussions that are ongoing in London will lead to a situation by next Wednesday, when we have a special council meeting, where Prime Minister Theresa May will have something to table to us on the basis of which we can continue to talk.
“We want to stand together as 27. Until the very last hour – I can say this from the German side – we will do everything in order to prevent a no-deal Brexit; Britain crashing out of the European Union.
“But we have to do this together with Britain and with their position that they will present to us.”
Mrs Merkel added: “We will simply have to be able to do this. We have to be successful and we hope for a solution that we can agree together with Britain.
“I heard that you have the same saying as what we say in Germany: ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way’.
“We are working on this and we have very good partners in the Commission, with Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Juncker who are putting everything into finding a good ending, finding mutual solutions, so we will find this together. We still hope, obviously, for an orderly Brexit.”
Speaking alongside the German Chancellor Taoiseach Leo Varadkar went on to say that while he was understanding of the predicament facing Westminster he said any further extension 'must require and must have a credible and realistic way forward.”
Mr Varadkar restated that the EU was “prepared to amend the Political Declaration” if the UK’s red lines shifted.
“Both Ireland and Germany want to have a future relationship with the UK which is close and comprehensive and as deep as possible, and we would like to see the Withdrawal Agreement ratified so that we can begin the negotiations on a new economic and security partnership without further delay,” he said.
But he added: “There is very little time left and we have to prepare ourselves for all outcomes.”
Mr Varadkar restated his commitment to an open border in Ireland with free movement of people and frictionless trade, with no tariffs and no checks.
“I know three ways that can be achieved,” he said. “Either the UK remaining in the European Union, which they’ve decided not to do; a Norway-plus model where they are in or closely aligned to the customs union and single market; or the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop.
“So there are three ways to achieve that, but if all three are rejected that obviously puts us in a difficult position.”
While the levying of customs and tariffs can be done remotely, necessities like animal checks would have to take place physically somewhere, he said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel: "We will do everything in order to prevent a no-deal Brexit... but we have to do this together with Britain..." pic.twitter.com/7ePN5Dqjaa— BrexitCentral (@BrexitCentral) April 4, 2019
Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in Dublin ahead of Brexit talks with Taoiseach:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has arrived in Dublin for Brexit talks with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Ms Merkel was greeted by Mr Varadkar at Farmleigh House.
Her visit is viewed as a sign of her solidarity with Ireland as the Brexit saga rumbles on. Their discussions are set to focus on the latest developments from the UK, ahead of the special European Council meeting next week.
Speaking on Twitter, Leo Varadkar wrote: "It's a real privilege to welcome Chancellor Angela Merkel to Ireland today. We're meeting people from Ireland North and South to hear why we must avoid the return of any hard border and secure an orderly Brexit."
It’s a real privilege to welcome Chancellor Angela Merkel to Ireland today. We’re meeting people from Ireland North and South to hear why we must avoid the return of any hard border and secure an orderly #Brexit pic.twitter.com/22HrwvUpIP— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) April 4, 2019
Prior to their sit-down, Ms Merkel will take part in a round-table discussion with 15 people from Northern Ireland and the border area about the impact a no-deal scenario could have on their lives.
It will include some victims of violence, as well as farmers and business people.
Mr Varadkar held talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Tuesday.
Ahead of Ms Merkel's visit, an Irish Government spokesman said the German Chancellor had been a "strong and unwavering ally of Ireland" as the country responds to the challenges posed by Brexit.
He said: "Ahead of their formal meeting, the Taoiseach and Chancellor will participate in a round-table discussion with people from Northern Ireland and the border area, who will share their personal experience and perspectives on the impact any return to a hard border would have on border communities and businesses.
"It is important to hear their voices as we work together to deal with the challenges that Brexit presents."
The spokesman said the meeting is also an opportunity for the two leaders to consider other issues on the EU's agenda, and reflect on how Ireland and Germany can strengthen their "already excellent relations".
Speaking in the Irish Parliament on Wednesday, the Taoiseach said he hoped Mr Corbyn would show leadership and come up with a compromise plan with Mrs May.
Mr Varadkar also said the growing frustration among a number of EU countries over the Brexit process is "worrying" for Ireland.
Discussing his meeting with Mr Macron, Mr Varadkar said he was "really heartened by the enormous support" that France continued to demonstrate towards Ireland, and by Mr Macron's statement that Ireland would never be abandoned by France or by the EU.
"Whatever issues arise, if there is no deal, they are very much seen as shared problems, ones that Ireland will try to resolve with our partners in France and the European Commission," he added.
"It's not a questions of a big stick or us being put under undue pressure, but there are reasonable questions being asked as to how we will protect the integrity of the single market and the single union."
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Chancellor Angela Merkel are expected to hold a press conference to address the media at Farmleigh on Brexit and other issues.
-PA and Digital Desk Staff