Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.jpg
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny
Photograph: Photo by William Murphy, used under CC BY-SA

The island of Ireland would likely be worst affected by the British decision to leave the European Union, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Tuesday.

The two leaders discussed the future of European integration, Britain's relationship with Europe after the Brexit as well as Ireland's "unique relationship" with Britain as the country's western neighbour and former colony.

"If Britain has access to the single market, then things will stay very much the same as they are. But that will come at a price," Kenny said, referring to the free movement of people without restriction, which is seen as a quid pro quo in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

The Irish premier was keen to avoid creating new obstacles to trade and travel between Britain and Ireland along the Northern Irish border. "We don't want to see a European border run from Dundalk to Derry," he said.

There were also many practical issues to consider for Ireland, Kenny said, pointing out that hundreds of thousands of Irish people living either side of the Irish Sea depended on the British economy for work.

It would be difficult to give an outcome at this stage, he added, but according to "predictive economic papers" Ireland would be the worst-affected country.

Both leaders stressed that Britain had to make up its mind on its future relationship with the EU soon.

"The task of the new prime minister ... will be to get clarity on the question of what kind of relationship Britain wants to build with the European Union," Merkel told reporters.

Kenny too stressed that he was keen for Britain to take a decision on triggering Article 50, which starts the process of exit negotiations, so that EU members would know whether the country wanted a relationship to the bloc based on either the Swiss or Norwegian model or something altogether different.

Regarding the peace process in Northern Ireland, Kenny said that a lengthy conflict between Catholics and Protestants had left "a very fragile legacy," and efforts to maintain peace and stability in the North had to continue.

"Peace can never be taken for granted," Kenny said. "This is why I keep reminding people of the value of the European Union," which he considered to be a "peace process in itself."

Merkel meanwhile emphasized the importance of Ireland's voice in the EU and its good relations with Germany. The 27 remaining EU member states would have to discuss the future of the union: "And here the Irish voice will be heard as well as all the others."

Latest news

Merkel calls for fewer EU regulations as nationalist sentiments grow

As voters in the Netherlands, France and Germany show increasing support for nationalist, euro-sceptic political movements ahead of this year's elections, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for limits on EU regulations.

French prosecutors transfer Fillon case to investigative judge

The French judiciary has opened a formal investigation in connection with presidential candidate Francois Fillon to examine whether the employment of his wife as a parliamentary employee was a sham, the country's financial prosecutors' office said Friday.

White House bars major news outlets from press briefing

Major news organizations, which were Friday blocked by the White House from attending an informal press briefing, condemned the move just hours after President Donald Trump described parts of the media as "the enemy of the people."

Report: German intelligence spied on BBC, other foreign journalists

Germany's intelligence agency monitored foreign journalists at the BBC, the New York Times and other news organizations from 1999 onwards across several countries, according to a Friday report from Der Spiegel magazine.

Classroom for Islamic religious education opened in Split

A classroom for Islamic religious education, whose equipment was financially assisted by city and county authorities, was opened in the coastal city of Split on Friday.

Ministry say no licences for export of military goods to Saudi Arabia issued in 2016

The Economy, Enterprise and Crafts Ministry on Friday issued a statement regarding media reports about export licences for military goods, stressing that in 2016 it did not issue any licences for the export of military goods to Saudi Arabia.

Croatia for preserving Bosnia's stability

Croatia on Friday supported the stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), calling on its authorities to adopt decisions in institutions, after a request by BiH Presidency Bosniak member Bakir Izetbegovic to review a ruling which acquitted Serbia of genocide.

Mexico is not a migrant "waiting room" for US, interior minister says

Mexico will not accept undocumented immigrants from other countries whom the United States plans to deport, Mexico's interior minister said Friday.

Right-wing populist Wilders declines first Dutch election debate

Candidates from nine Dutch parties answered questions from journalists Friday at the first national radio debate of the election campaign, but the leading candidate

Bosnian Croat reps insist on channel airing programmes in Croatian

Being one of the constituent peoples, the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina are entitled to a broadcaster that will air programmes in their native language, HNS BiH official Ivan Vukoja said at a news conference in Mostar on Friday.

Same-sex couples in Slovenia can marry

A Slovenian law allowing same-sex couples to marry went into force on Friday and the first civil registrar ceremony, between two women, is to take place in Maribor on Saturday, the town's Vecer daily said.

Moody's changes Agrokor's outlook to negative

The Moody's rating agency on Friday changed its outlook for the Agrokor food retailer from stable to negative, affirming its rating of B3.