Taoiseach discuss fallout from Juncker vote with Merkel

Friday 04 July 2014 00.15
Enda Kenny and Angela Merkel had discussions in Berlin
Enda Kenny and Angela Merkel had discussions in Berlin

Taoiseach Enda Kenny met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin today.

The two leaders discussed the fallout from last week's summit of EU leaders in Brussels, during which British Prime Minister David Cameron was outvoted in the nomination for the new president of the European Commission.

While the Government supported the former Luxembourg prime minister's candidacy, Mr Kenny has spoken about the importance of the United Kingdom remaining within the EU, for Europe as a whole, and not least for Ireland.

Chancellor Merkel has acknowledged that Britain's concerns over the nomination process, as well as its wider claims on EU reform, should be addressed.

However, but it is not clear exactly how far she and other European leaders can go.

Discussions between Mr Kenny and Ms Merkel were likely to focus on the appointment of the other big EU vacancy, the president of the European Council, the body representing heads of government.

Some of the names that have been mentioned of late, such as Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt and former Italian leader Enrico Lette, have since faded, and there is some speculation that Mr Kenny's name may come back into the frame as a result.

Mr Kenny met Ms Merkel at the Intercontinental Hotel in Berlin, before making a keynote speech on Europe's economy for a think tank associated with Ms Merkel's Christian Democrat party.

Before the meeting Mr Kenny commented on the property tax, saying that local councils can reduce the property tax if they so wish according to the legislation. 

Mr Kenny said that the legislation allowed for the reduction in property tax, if the members of the local authority wish to do it.

He said: "This is about devolving responsibility and authority to the elected members. Councillors have to publish their budgets so that people will know the services they're getting for the taxes they pay.

"The only things that have been agreed have been that 80 percent of the local property tax should be retained within the council area and that no council should be worse off than it was last year when the process started.  

"The details of how that is implemented have yet to be worked out.

"Quite clearly, we have instructed our people before the local elections that they would reduce property taxes if that were possible in some of the council areas - it's not possible in all of the council areas - that nobody will be worse off starting off in this process and 80 percent will be retained within the council areas." 

The Taoiseach earlier officially opened a new Primark store in Alexanderplatz in the German capital.