Belfast Telegraph

Taoiseach hails importance of 'strong ally' France in Brexit talks

Leo Varadkar has used his first visit to Paris as Taoiseach to highlight the importance of Ireland's relationship with France post Brexit.

After talks with President Emmanuel Macron in the Elysee Palace, Mr Varadkar stressed how supportive France had been in backing Ireland's position in the negotiations.

"I leave Paris feeling very strongly that, while we may not agree on everything, we do have a very strong ally in France," he said.

"After the UK leaves the EU, the nearest EU country to Ireland will be France, so this is going to be a really important relationship into the future."

Keeping with the mood of strengthening links post-Brexit, the discussions included the planned Celtic energy interconnector between the two countries.

Issues where opinions diverge were also addressed, such as tax policy in relation to multinational internet companies.

Mr Varadkar said the issue should be tackled on a worldwide level, by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), while he said France favoured a more European approach.

The Fine Gael leader said he did not want to see a new tax on internet companies that would ultimately benefit non-EU states.

"We obviously have a difference of opinion on digital taxation," he said.

"We agree that internet companies should pay their fair share of tax, but it is our strong view that global companies that operate on the World Wide Web need a worldwide solution to taxation, and we'd like to see that through the OECD process rather than through the European Commission."

On his visit to the French capital, the Taoiseach also attended a business event organised by the Irish Embassy in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland (Industrial Development Authority), Tourism Ireland and Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board.

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