Emmanuel Macron backs Ireland in Brexit dispute

Britain and the EU can solve issues over Northern Ireland sensibly, says Irish PM

France has promised to support Ireland in resolving the fallout from Brexit that is rippling along the Irish border with the UK.

French President Emmanuel Macron pointed out that, with the UK no longer in the bloc, France was its closest EU neighbour.

The European Commission has rejected the idea of renegotiating the Brexit treaty, but has agreed to freeze legal action against Britain for making changes to the protocol for Northern Ireland – the only part of the UK that has a land border with the EU.

London has asked for an extension to the current grace period on implementing many of the new checks required on trade between Northern Ireland that were agreed on as part of the Brexit deal.

"We will make sure that the agreements signed after very lengthy negotiations will be complied with when it comes to fisheries or with the Northern Ireland protocol," Mr Macron said. "To put it bluntly: we will not let you down.”

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said he believed Britain and the European Union can sensibly solve issues over Northern Ireland.

"A positive and constructive future partnership is in everyone's interests but it will only be delivered if there is a relationship of trust and a willingness to deliver on commitments entered into," Mr Martin said.

"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.”

In the guest book at the official residence of the Irish president, Mr Macron wrote that France is Ireland's “closest neighbour” in the EU.

“Because it [Ireland] has tirelessly fought for peace, was a land of exile before becoming a land of hospitality, because its society is united and open, Ireland has a precious place at the heart of the European dream,” he wrote.

“Your invitation today to meet the spirits that shape it, is a great joy and a source of inspiration. France, the closest neighbour in the EU, will remain a faithful friend for the future. Confidently, Emmanuel Macron.”

One of the main areas of disagreement between France and Ireland is the international plan for a global corporate tax rate of 15 per cent.

Ireland has a low tax regime, which has been used to tempt tech giants to build their European headquarters in the country.

G20 finance ministers agreed in July to a reform of tax on multinational companies that is meant to stop nations from using ultra-low tax rates to attract businesses.

The world's top economies would be the biggest gainers of the preliminary deal brokered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), while tax havens would be the biggest losers.

The US, Germany, France and many of the world's biggest economies are where multinationals do most of their business, but they are less and less likely to have their tax bases in those countries.

Ireland is among nine of the OECD’s 130 members not willing to sign up to the pledge.

Meanwhile, evacuation flights for Irish citizens and residents in Afghanistan are continuing on Friday, said Ireland’s foreign affair minister Simon Coveney.

He said that Irish citizens and residents still in Afghanistan have “been advised against coming to or remaining at the airport as gates are no longer open".

Updated: August 26th 2021, 6:59 PM
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