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A Lecture by H.E. Amb. Dr. Daniel Mulhall, Ambassador of the Republic of Ireland to Germany

March 10th, 2013

H.E. Amb. Dr. Daniel Mulhall

Ambassador of the Republic of Ireland to Germany

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News from Berlin. Dr. Daniel Mulhall was born in Waterford, Ireland in April 1955. Pursuing an extensive academic career he first studied at University College Cork (UCC) and continued his studies at Murdoch University in Western Australia.He joined the Department of Foreign Affairs of Ireland in 1978 and has held positions in the Department’s Economic, Political, Development Cooperation and Press/Information Divisions.  In 1994 he began a year-long position as a member of the Secretariat of Ireland’s Forum for Peace and Reconciliation.
Across his career Dr. Daniel Mulhall has had diplomatic postings in New Delhi, Vienna, Brussels (EU), Edinburgh (as Consul General of Ireland in Scotland) and Kuala Lumpur, where he was Ireland’s Ambassador to Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam from between 2001 and 2005. August 2005 saw him appointed as Director-General of the European Union and OECD Division in the Department of Foreign Affairs based in Dublin.

Berlin Global

News from Berlin.

“Opportunities for Nation Branding: Ireland´s EU Presidency and The Gathering, 2013″

A Lecture by Ambassador of the Republic of Ireland to Germany, H.E. Amb. Dr. Daniel Mulhall

The Berlin International Economics Congress 2013

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An Interview with H.E. Amb. Daniel Mulhall Ambassador of Ireland to Germany

Q1. Ireland has been credited with maintaining a low rate of corporation tax , thus encouraging multinationals such as Intel and Hewlett Packard to relocate there. How effective has this strategy been in promoting Ireland’s image in terms of nation branding in the last few decades? Does this combined with an educated work force help you to gain an edge internationally?

We have to present ourselves as a smart economy with a young, well educated population capable of dealing with the challenges of the 21st century. Ireland has the youngest population in the EU as the median age is ten years below the other European countries, so we have a real advantage in having a younger population. Also last year in October when the academic year started, we had the biggest into the third level education in the history of the state. That means that in three or four years, when those people come out with degrees, we are going to have a very young, well-educated population who are capable of making Ireland into a genuinely smart and innovative economy. We have to keep presenting that image of Ireland and counter all of the negative perceptions regarding Ireland over the past few years, and we have to keep the focus on the long term advantages that Ireland offers to investors which is young population, highly educated, flexible economy, and ready for the challenges of the years ahead.

Q2. Member States each attain to a certain degree of cynicism, one might say,  as to how much power should be ‘handed over’ to the supranational institutions: what is, according to you, Germany’s view on such a perceived transfer of power?

Well the beauty of the European Union is that we may start with different points of view, we ultimately come to a shared understanding. In terms of a German view, an Irish view, or an Italian view, all of us engaged in a co-operative adventure designed to reach a consensus. Looking back over the fifty years of European integration, that consensus has always been reached no matter how difficult the circumstances. Ultimately the EU has a flair for reaching agreements, and that is what has made the union a great organization as it is, and has managed to combine the interests of the 27 member states and find a common ground between them.

Q3. You recently quoted in an interview, Stanley Hoffman, as being sceptical as to European integration in light of the fall of the Berlin Wall and it’s complex aftermath. How significant do you believe those events were in shaping the history of the European Union?

I wrote a piece for a newspaper a couple months ago about the role played by the Irish presidency of the EU in 1990. At that time, many of the European countries in the immediate aftermath in the fall of the Berlin Wall were rather nervous about the implications of German reunification. The Irish had a natural sympathy for Germany because we ourselves understood that national divisions are a real burden, and when we saw Germany looking to overcome division created in the wake of the Second World War we had an instinctive understanding for their desire for unity. Europe was transformed by the fall of the Berlin Wall as it inspired the EU to move to the next stage because a political, monetary, and economic union all came about after the wall came down because people in Europe could see that there was a need to move to the next step of integration because Europe was changing. It also led to the enlargement of the European Union as it provided a real momentum because without the fall, there would not be the European Union that exists today. Europe and the EU would be poorer for that. The fact is we now have a single market in Europe, 500 million people and that’s a huge advantage for a country like Ireland as we are one of the most export-oriented countries in Europe. Therefore, for us with a 500 million strong marketplace is a huge asset to a country our size.

Q4. What challenges does the Irish-German relationship face, today?

We have a very good relationship with Germany. Nearly half a million Germans visit Ireland every year which makes Germany the third largest tourist market after the UK and the United States. This is a huge thing if you think about it, and the reason that so many Germans go to Ireland is because they have a positive image of Ireland. These ideas are generated by culture, the images of our landscape and by a great book written by Heinrich Boll, the German Nobel Prize winner who went to Ireland in the 1950’s and wrote a book called “The Irish Journal”. Of course it gives an old fashioned view of Ireland and the key thing for Ireland is to update that image and attract new generations of German tourists to come to Ireland and to appreciate Ireland for what it is. Ireland is a country that combines tradition with a modern economy and a modern society.