Tout d’abord, je voudrais dire que je suis vraiment très heureux aujourd’hui d’accueillir Monsieur le Président Emmanuel Macron à Dublin.
Sa visite et notre échange cet après-midi attestent de l’amitié chaleureuse et de la coopération étroite entre l’Irlande et la France.
It is a very great pleasure to welcome President Macron to Government Buildings today.
It is a very full day with cultural and economic engagements, alongside the meeting we have just had and his earlier meeting with President Higgins.
I hope he will leave with good memories of Dublin. We are all especially grateful to him for bringing such lovely weather with him.
Let me also extend my warmest greetings to the delegation accompanying the President, including Ministers Le Drian, Le Maire, and Beaune, Senator Conway-Mouret, and Deputy Holroyd. You are all very welcome.
France and Ireland are the oldest and best of friends.
Ours is a friendship that has endured and evolved over the centuries. From the safe harbour offered to French Huguenots in Ireland or to the Wild Geese in France; to the inspiration Irish republicans drew from the French Revolution; to the rich cultural connections, especially in the area of literature, that we will mark today; to the past almost five decades of close partnership in the European Union, Ireland and France have stood together.
The links between us are deep, and they have never been stronger.
I am proud, Mr President, to have this opportunity to celebrate them with you today.
We have just had a very warm and useful meeting.
We discussed the excellent relations between our two countries, and looked forward to further deepening them in the period ahead.
We both strongly welcomed the Ireland-France Joint Plan of Action, signed today by Ministers Coveney and Le Drian, setting out an ambitious programme of cooperation across a wide policy spectrum of areas where we have much to gain from intensifying our work together.
I especially welcome the commitment to strengthen cooperation in education and research, as well as in promoting the French language here and Irish studies in France.
The President’s visit comes at an important time for both our countries, for the European Union, and for the world.
We discussed some of the most pressing EU and International issues on the in our meeting today.
Naturally, the extremely difficult and concerning situation in Afghanistan was very much on our minds.
France has been extremely helpful in supporting our efforts to secure the safe return of Irish citizens and their family members, including in mobilising our team and on the ground in Kabul airport.
Your support, Mr President, is greatly appreciated – merci.
We also discussed COVID-19 which remains a challenge in both of our countries.
As we emerge from the pandemic, securing a strong and socially just economic recovery will be a priority task for the EU, especially during the French Presidency of the Union in the first half of next year.
We discussed the need to make best use of the historic Next Generation EU recovery package to drive forward the digital and climate transformations on which our future well-being and prosperity depend.
Recovery must be robust, inclusive and, especially, sustainable.
As the recent report of the International Panel on Climate Change made clear, climate change is already a reality in all parts of the world.
However, the report also made clear that the capacity to change the course of events through acting decisively now is in our hands.
That is the message we will be taking to the COP26 meeting in Glasgow in November.
The EU should continue to offer global leadership on climate.
We also discussed the EU’s relations with the UK.
A positive and constructive future partnership is in everyone’s interest. But it will only be delivered if there is a relationship of trust, and a willingness to deliver on commitments entered into.
The EU has demonstrated commitment, patience and creativity in its work to implement the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol.
With the right political will, I believe that it will be possible to find sensible solutions to some of the outstanding issues, within the framework of the Protocol.
Both the President and I strongly support the EU team and the positive approach it is taking in seeking to advance this work.
Of course, as a consequence of Brexit, France is now Ireland’s nearest neighbour in the EU.
There are new opportunities for us – for our citizens and our businesses – in this new context.
We are already seeing more Irish exports travelling elsewhere in the Single Market directly, via French ports.
We look forward to the Celtic interconnector that will provide the first direct link for electricity between Ireland and the continent.
We look forward to welcoming French tourists and students back to Ireland as we both continue our return to normality.
Building on the strength of our past, we are very much looking to the future together.
So, President Macron, Emmanuel, can I thank you again for your visit to Dublin and wish every success for remainder of your visit and for the French EU Presidency that lies ahead.