UK staying in EU is ‘strategic objective’ for Irish Government

Minister Simon Harris declares support for ‘any reasonable proposals’ for reform

Minister of State for Finance Simon Harris said Dublin was keen to see Britain remain in the EU but he said the Government would make clear its views if certain reform proposals were “undesirable or unachievable”.

At a Brussels talk on Europe’s capital markets union plan between the IFSC Ireland and the City of London UK group, Mr Harris said continued British membership of the EU was a strategic objective for the Government.

“We will continue to work closely with the UK and other like-minded partners on those policy issues where we share the same interests and approach,” he told a breakfast meeting.

“We will also support any reasonable proposals for reform of the functioning of the Union, while at the same time making clear where we believe that specific proposals are undesirable or unachievable.”

Research project

His remarks came as the Economic and Social Research Institute said it was engaged in a detailed research project in partnership with the Department of Finance on the implications for Ireland of Britain’s debate on EU membership.

After British prime minister David Cameron won an outright majority in the Westerminster election, an In/Out referendum on membership will be held by the end of 2017.

Mr Harris said Britain’s continued membership was very important for the Irish economy and for the ongoing development of good relations between Ireland and Britain. “It is the Government’s stated position as well that the EU itself is stronger and more effective with the UK as an integral member,” he said. “The exercise of this mutually beneficial relationship is an indirect dividend of the closer and stronger Anglo-Irish ties of recent years.

“Continuing to put this hard-earned benefit front and centre in future debates on the UK’s membership of the EU is incumbent on both business communities and other stakeholders who recognise the importance of ‘better together’ in an increasingly competitive global market place.

“For this reason and many others the Government will continue to deepen its analysis and careful monitoring of the situation in the time ahead.”

Ireland was very supportive of a capital markets union from a funds perspective, he said.

“However, there might be some divergence between the [European] Commission’s objective to increase market-based finance and a number of regulatory initiatives currently underway,” he added.

“We would be concerned that some of the potential impacts of the current draft EU Money Market Fund Regulation may work against this objective.”