Reading the Opinion feature in the Irish Times on Friday by the German Ambassador Dr Eckhard Luebkemeier, I recalled his visit to UCD last November for the EGA Annual Panel Discussion chaired by Pat Kenny of RTE.
|Dr Eckhard Luebkemeier and Stephen Donnellly TD|
|Pat Kenny, Chairman of the UCD EGA Panel Discussion|
'We Germans need Europe as much as Europe needs us' he said on Friday 'Europe's prosperity depends on our ability to measure up to countries like the US, Japan and China. That is why even 'big' Germany has a fundamental interest in a strong Europe. Our prosperity depends on a prosperous Europe because the single market is and will remain our most important trading place.'
Dr Luebkemeier's article last week was building on the theme of the EGA Panel Discussion last November 'Can We Shape Ireland's Recovery on the German Model'. Last November he stated 'Germany is the country with most neighbours in Europe, our prosperity depends on prosperous European partners. We are acutely aware that we are where we are and where we want to be: a nation-state in Europe whose peace, prosperity and democratic stability of its European neighbours.'
The Ambassador is a very skilled and astute diplomat. He showed this when he was interviewed by Pat Kenny on his morning RTE radio programme the week after the EGA debate. In fact Pat was so taken by the EGA debate that he brought two of our panellists - the Ambassador together with Stephen Donnelly Wicklow Independent TD - onto his own radio programme to debate the matter further for the benefit of the nation. It was a very strong performance by both panellists.
It is no surprise that the Eurozone crisis which we debated last November is still raging in the media and the corporate world. The Ambassador in his Opinion article on Friday also tries to be fair to Germany's critics.
'Germany can and should be criticised' he said 'we have no monopoly on wisdom. But neither have others. What Germany does have today is the 'power of the purse'. Germany is the main anchor of the Eurozone. To date German taxpayers have taken on liabilities of nearly €300 billion. With the implicit backing of the German economy the European Central Bank has taken measures of a kind and on a scale unforeseen when it was established'.
The UCD EGA will continue to debate the affairs of the nation with a growing number of stakeholders. Last month we discussed the setting up and regulation of Irish Water at our Annual Lecture. We were privileged to have this debate led by the current Water Regulator for England and Wales Regina Finn before a record audience including many leading executives in Irish Water, local authorities and the private sector.
This October we will debate another critical national economic issue - 'Can Irish Skills in Engineering Manufacturing continue to lead Job Creation and National Recovery'. We hope to have this debate fronted by a panel of leading Irish politicians, engineers and entrepreneurs. Much performance of current engineering manufacturing in Ireland comes from FDI companies in Computing, Pharma and Medical devices which is driving our export growth. At the same time, manufacturing by indigenous Irish firms in Food Processing, Brewing, Agricultural and Transport Machinery are also very significant and growing.