German chancellor Angela Merkel has appeared to rule out any special post-Brexit EU deal for Ireland, saying this country’s views will only “be heard as much as every other voice”.
Speaking during a joint post- Brexit press conference with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Berlin, the head of the German government twice failed to give any indication a deal will be sought or allowed.
Despite failing to reassure Ireland that special plans will be put in place, a Government spokesperson noted that Ms Merkel said she is aware of this country’s near century-old common travel area agreement with Britain and the North’s ‘soft’ border issues.
However, when twice asked if she is in favour of a specific deal to help Ireland address these difficulties, Ms Merkel strongly indicated this country will be treated no differently to other EU members.
“Of course I cannot anticipate the outcome of negotiations [with Britain on a Brexit],” she said. “The 27 member states will bring their influence to bear and the Irish voice will be heard as much as every other voice.”
Ms Merkel added “it is important Ireland plays a part here” and describing this country’s relationship with Germany as “a special friendship”, saying: “We will approach the post-Brexit challenges on the basis of friendship between the two countries.”
However, despite acknowledging the common travel area between Britain and Ireland has been in place since 1922 — before the EU existed — and that Ireland is now the only EU member not in the Schengen free movement area, she did not indicate any special deal would be arranged for this country.
Mr Kenny said that Ireland is the EU member state most at risk from the Brexit fallout.
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Responding to questions about the same issue while standing beside Ms Merkel, Mr Kenny said he does not “want to see an EU border running from Dundalk to Derry” as it would impact on trade in the Republic, the North, and Britain.
Mr Kenny said British prime minister David Cameron was in favour of continuing to the common travel area during a recent EU meeting in Brussels, a position the Taoiseach said he supports.
He added repeated analyses of the Brexit situation before Britain’s historic referendum last month showed Ireland is most at risk from the decision, and that as such additional help may be required.
“Many of the economic studies pre the Brexit decision did point out Ireland would be one of the most adversely affected from the Brexit outcome, and that Northern Ireland would actually be the most specifically adversely affected,” he added.
Any special deal for Ireland in light of the Brexit crisis will focus on issues such as the common travel area with Britain and potential economic supports for this country.
However, both Mr Kenny and Ms Merkel noted discussions will hinge on what Britain sets out to achieve in negotiations and what position new prime minister Theresa May takes.
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