Niels Kirst, Assistant Professor in European Law (Dublin City University)
On 14 February 2023, Niels Kirst, newly appointed Assistant Professor of European Law at DCU’s School of Law and Government and researcher at the Brexit Institute, was invited to attend a dinner and exchange thoughts with a group of the German Parliament (the Bundestag) at the German Ambassador’s Residence in Donnybrook. The dinner was hosted by the German Ambassador to Ireland, Cord Meier-Klodt. The delegation of the Bundestag consisted of the MPs Dr Anton Hofreiter (leader), Chantal Kopf (both the Greens), Ariane Fäscher (Social Democrats), Detlef Seif (Conservatives), Valentin Abel (Liberals) and Andrej Hunko (the Left). Furthermore, the Irish Minister for the Environment, Eamon Ryan, was present at the dinner. From 14 February to 16 February 2023, the members of the Bundestag’s EU Committee undertook a delegation trip to Dublin for talks focusing on the current challenges facing Ireland and the European Union. The main discussion topics were the EU’s external relations and climate and energy issues.
During their trip, the delegation met with Tánaiste and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defence Micheál Martin. The delegation also met with members of the Irish-German Parliamentary Group and members of the Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs. In addition, the delegation had extensive background discussions with the Institute for International and European Affairs (IIEA), the German Irish Chamber of Commerce, the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, the European Movement Ireland, and the Director of the EU-UK Unit of the Irish Foreign Office. Furthermore, the delegation met with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Charlie McConalogue and the Citizens’ Council on Biodiversity Loss. On trade and customs issues in particular, the delegation exchanged views with the Minister of State for Trade Promotion and Digital Transformation, Dara Calleary, at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and with the Dublin Port Company representatives. As a result, the delegation had a highly packed program full of opportunities to exchange important topics. The dinner at the German Ambassador’s residence was an opportunity to continue those conversations in a more relaxed environment.
The discussions during the dinner mainly focused on future cooperation between Ireland and Germany, the current political environment in Ireland and Irish challenges ahead. The Ambassador, Cord Meyer-Klodt, warmly welcomed the German MPs to Ireland and highlighted the German Irish friendship, which is based upon mutual trust and understanding. The Irish Minister for the Environment, Eamon Ryan, echoing the Ambassador’s remarks, highlighting the German Irish cooperation and partnership. Further, he emphasised the tremendous potential of the Irish green transition. Focus was laid upon Irish offshore wind farms, which will be built in the future, and green electricity and hydrogen, which could be dispatched and shipped to the European continent and to Germany. Those remarks fit into the ambitious green agenda of the Irish government. According to Tánaiste Micheál Martin, Ireland aims to become a net energy exporter by mid-2030. Eamon Ryan is even more ambitious, arguing that Ireland could become an energy exporter by the decade’s end.
Ireland’s goal is to reduce emissions by 51% by 2030. Therefore, Ireland needs to invest heavily in renewables, while offshore wind power is the natural choice for Ireland as an island surrounded by water with one of the windiest coasts on the planet. According to Eamon Ryan, with all the renewable electricity projects in development, 55 terawatts of power would be generated in Ireland by 2030, while the country’s needs at peak demand would be 50 terawatts. Regarding the connection to the European energy grid, the Celtic Interconnector is currently being built between Ireland and France. The Celtic Interconnector is a planned subsea (undersea) link to allow the exchange of electricity between Ireland and France. Since 2011, EirGrid has been working with its French equivalent, Réseau de Transport d’Electricité (RTE), to find the best way to develop the interconnector to benefit electricity customers and markets in Ireland, France, and the EU. The Celtic Interconnector is due to be completed in 2026.
Those are exciting developments that the Brexit Institute will continue to cover closely. Ireland’s role and importance in the European Union will only grow given the tremendous energy challenges ahead and the ambitious European green agenda.
The views expressed in this blog reflect the position of the author and not necessarily that of the Brexit Institute Blog.