Minister Le Drian salutes Irish-French relations
Earlier this month, writing in Ireland’s premier national newspaper, The Irish Times, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, described the “deep bonds of friendship” between France and Ireland as “rooted in history” and “constantly strengthened over the centuries.”
He added, “France is now Ireland’s closest neighbour within the European Union. And Brittany is the French region closest to Ireland. I am particularly sensitive to this, having served as an elected representative there. I have many personal memories connected to Ireland, especially of the Inter-Celtic Festival in Lorient, a town where I was for a long time mayor.”
Illustrating the close bilateral links, Minister Le Drian said the links were based on many things including culture, trade and business.
“The cultural ties uniting France and Ireland are also very close, French is the first foreign language taught in Ireland, and France the leading destination for Irish Erasmus+ students. As for the French, they make up by far the largest contingent of European students in Ireland. Ireland joined the Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF) in 2018, thus acknowledging that openness to the world is also expressed in French. In the footsteps of James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde and W.B. Yeats, many Irish writers have found inspiration in Paris. I would like us to further extend our academic cooperation by strengthening the partnerships between French and Irish universities.”
Focusing on trade and industry, he added,
“This new closeness is reflected in a larger number of direct sea links between our two countries, benefiting the smooth operation of the European single market. It will also take physical shape in the Celtic Interconnector, the 700-MW electricity cable which will link our two countries from 2026 onwards and encourage the development of renewable energy. A hundred and fifty French businesses currently have branches in Ireland and employ nearly 12,000 people, a sign of our dynamic economic relationship.”
Looking to the future, he added, “It is our ambition to do more, and I would like us to think together about a partnership for sustainable development, with a view to cooperating on offshore wind power, on the sustainable management of cities and on adapting our societies, economies and agriculture to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the protection of biodiversity.
We can also cooperate more on the digital economy, where Ireland has become a major player in the EU. French tech start-ups are looking to Ireland to develop and forge partnerships. Our regions and cities aspire to cooperate more in order to address common challenges together.”
According to Minister Le Drian, “France and Ireland plan together to write a new chapter in their relationship; two neighbours closer than ever which share a common destiny within a stronger, more mutually supportive and more sovereign European Union.”
New Plan of Action links France and Ireland even closer
Cementing its strong bilateral relationship into the future, France and Ireland signed a joint Plan of Action recently.
The plan being was signed by Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and French Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs during a visit of President Macron to Ireland.
“I am delighted to sign an ambitious Joint Plan of Action between our two countries which will strengthen practical cooperation across a range of sectors and bring tangible benefits for our businesses, cultural institutions, schools, higher education institutions and research institutes, as well as ordinary citizens,” said Minister Coveney.
The strategy agreed between the two countries bridges a range of cultural, educational and political activities.
They include –
- expanding Ireland’s diplomatic footprint in France to support trade and business relationships, opening a new Consulate General in Lyon and appointing a new Honorary Consul in Roscoff to support partnerships in Brittany;
- projects in the areas of renewable energy and sustainable agriculture and fisheries;
- strengthening links between students, faculty and researchers in educational institutions;
- promoting cultural exchanges, including by creating several new cultural fellowships and residency programmes between Irish and French institutions;
- a Memorandum of Understanding between seven universities, three in Ireland and four in Brittany.
Ambassador of France to Ireland strengthens bilateral links
Over the last two years, since his appointment on 23 September, 2020. Ambassador Vincent Guérend has been tireless in his effort to create a close relationship between France and Ireland.
And his impressive previous experience focusing on European Affairs, as well as Asian affairs, have been a tremendous help in carrying out his mission successfully.
Ambassador Guérend was previously Chief of Staff of the Secretary of State for European Affairs, EU Ambassador to Indonesia and Brunei-Darusalaam (2015-2019), the first Director for Finance and Corporate Support in the European Commission and European External Action Service (EEAS) when the Service was set up, Deputy Chief of Mission at the French Embassy in Ankara (2009-2011), member and subsequently Deputy Chief of Staff of Mrs Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU Commissioner for External relations and Neighbourhood policy (2004-2009), political counsellor at the French Embassy in New-Delhi particular in charge of internal issues including Jammu-and-Kashmir (2001-2003).
He was the first deputy secretary general for Franco-German cooperation in 2003-2004 following the creation of joint Franco-German cabinet meetings in 2003. In this capacity, he was advisor to the German Minister for European Affairs and contributed to the coordination and preparation of the work of the Franco-German joint cabinet meetings.
Ambassador Guérend started his professional career in the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs in the EU Department, as an editor for internal market and the eurozone (1997-1999). He was then editor in charge of the negociation of the Treaty of Nice during the French Presidency of the EU council (2000).
New Ireland Ambassador to France brings lifetime of public service to diplomatic role
Recently appointed Ireland Ambassador to France, Niall Burgess, brings a wealth of international and domestic experience to his new diplomatic role in Paris, with the intention of united the two nations even closer together.
Ambassador Burgess arrived in Paris after being Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin for the last seven years during which he dealt with key, wide-ranging matters affecting every aspect of Ireland’s external relations.
And before that, Ambassador Burgess, who initially trained as an archaelogist, served as Director General of the Anglo Irish Division at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade since August 2010.
He was Consul General of Ireland in New York from May 2007 and prior to assuming that role, he was Director with responsibility for political affairs at the Anglo Irish Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs in the period leading up to the establishment of the Northern Ireland Executive in May 2007.
He has also served with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Chicago, New York, Geneva and in Brussels with the Council Secretariat of the European Union.
Ambassador Burgess is married to Marie Morgan and they have two children.