I propose to take Questions Nos. 89 and 108 together.
Since assuming office, the Government has engaged extensively and continuously with governments and key political actors across the EU and beyond. This is very much the case with Germany and its political leadership on all sides. My Department and our embassy in Berlin, in particular, maintain ongoing and regular contacts, including with the SPD. In conjunction with official contacts I have had with the outgoing German Administration, I and colleagues maintain regular personal contact with the SPD, including through our parties' shared membership of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.
Group members regularly meet ahead of Council meetings in Brussels. As the House is aware, I also worked very closely with SPD member and President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, MEP, during Ireland’s Presidency earlier this year. In addition, I met Peer Steinbrück, a former German Finance Minister and the party’s candidate for Chancellor in the recent German elections, in Dublin in February.
I spoke very recently with the SPD leader, Sigmar Gabriel, to discuss post-election political developments in Germany, update him on developments in the Irish economy and underline the importance of fully concluding the banking union, including with regard to the role of the ESM. I stressed that the success of Ireland’s recovery efforts and our forthcoming exit from the EU-IMF programme were very important for both Ireland and the EU as a whole.
German coalition negotiations are ongoing and indications are that a new government may be formed in mid-December, at which point its exact policy programme will be known. The SPD party has included sustainable growth in the European Union and a focus on youth unemployment among its top policy priorities in these negotiations, something that is consistent with Ireland’s priorities.
The Government’s position on key policies such as our corporation tax rate has not changed and will not change, a position of which the entire political system in Germany is well aware. We will continue to emphasise the need to deliver on EU-wide commitments on stabilising its banking system and ensuring sustainable recovery, including in Ireland.