Last week the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan T.D, visited Japan. Below is an op-ed that he wrote for the Nikkei.
A Bridge between Japan and the EU post Brexit
Japan’s Message to the UK and the EU last September had a real resonance in Ireland. I discussed this with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida during his visit to Dublin in January. These were exactly the concerns and questions we had and the messages we wished to convey.
Ireland did not want this outcome. In trade terms, Ireland is more connected with the UK than any other Member State.
Our economy is more affected by British economic fluctuations than anyone else’s. The impact of Brexit will be felt in every sector. But we will work to limit its negative effects.
We share a common position that negotiations should be conducted so as to minimise any adverse impacts on trade, investment and the free movement of people, goods and services. I know Japan has a keen interest in these negotiations. I am happy to share our understanding of what is happening with Japan.
Post-Brexit, with Ireland becoming the only English-speaking member of the EU, enjoying the same legal system as the UK and remaining part of the EU’s research and innovation programme, [Horizon 2020], Ireland can continue as a bridge for Japan into the EU.
We strongly support the speedy conclusion of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, EPA. This agreement will allow the EU and Japan to set the terms for global trade in the twenty-first century for our mutual benefit. Most of the hard technical work on the agreement has been completed. We now need to see political will on both sides to make it a reality.
Ireland is interested in market access for our agricultural goods and would like to see something significant in this area. Reciprocally, the EU will open its market of nearly 500 million to Japanese agriculture.
Ireland’s history has given us a particular appreciation of the value of peace. Within the EU, Ireland found an enabling environment allowing neighbours to engage peacefully with one another.
We must protect the peace and stability on our island that took decades to achieve. We have a strong interest in a British departure from the EU which is as smooth as possible and a future relationship which is close and positive.
Finally, I am optimistic that the EU, with Ireland as a fully committed member, will emerge from this period strong and united. As Ireland celebrates 60 years of diplomatic relations with Japan let’s continue to work together to build a more peaceful, just and prosperous world to the benefit of all our people.