Ireland on course to become Europe’s tech capital – Leo Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that Ireland is well on its way to becoming the tech capital of Europe and, despite Brexit, will continue to offer a stable and strong corporation tax regime for tech companies.

Mr Varadkar was speaking at the opening of the Data Summit 2018 in Dublin Castle this evening.

He said: “Seeing the world’s leading tech companies represented here tonight reinforces my belief that we are on the way to becoming the tech capital of Europe.

“From being an inward-looking country at the edge of Europe, Ireland has become a multicultural and globalised country, a melting pot of nationalities, proud to engage with the world.

“Changes that have occurred at a speed many believed impossible.”

Mr Varadkar added that 2018 is a time when globalisation, free trade and multilateralism are seen negatively in some parts of the world while Ireland has become a beacon for liberal western democratic values.

“No matter what happens with Brexit, Ireland will continue to provide a stable and competitive corporation tax regime, strong incentives for research and development, an agile, capable and cosmopolitan work-force, open skilled migration, membership of the single European market and the eurozone that we have to defend,” he said.

It comes as Mr Varadkar had dismissed reports earlier today that the EU would only support Ireland’s Brexit position on the condition the State drops opposition to corporate tax reform.

He told Labour leader Brendan Howlin during Leader's Questions that he could “absolutely guarantee” that EU support for Ireland’s position was “rock solid”.

During the summit, Mr Varadkar added he wants to keep Ireland at the forefront of technological developments.

With regards to electoral data, Mr Varadkar said his government was looking into making electoral advertising more transparent, letting voters know who funded the ads they see online.

“The electoral process is the lifeblood of any democracy.  So we have to do all that is necessary to protect its integrity.

“Governments across the world are increasingly concerned about data being used to disrupt their elections.

“One option we are considering is the regulation of online political advertising, not to restrict it but to make it completely transparent.

“Transparency, of course, is a central principle of the GDPR to which the Irish Government is fully committed, now entrenched into Irish law and we have enhanced our data protection regime. ”

The Data Summit 2018 is intended to showcase the Government’s determination to stay at the forefront of data and digital-related developments and the expanding role in modern society.

It is attended by companies like Facebook, Google, IDA Ireland, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Arthur Cox.

Meanwhile, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, speaking to journalists in Brussels tonight, warned that Ireland and the EU Brexit taskforce have concerns over the expected decision of EU leaders to extend time for the Brexit talks.

“We would like to see the UK side engaging intensively now in many hours of discussion and negotiation on the detail of the backstop. I think there’s an appetite to try and find a way forward,” he said.

“Time is short and what we need to see now from both negotiating teams is heightened engagement in the lead-in to October’s critical EU summit.

“We are continuing to negotiate for a sensible Brexit, and it can be done. However, we have to prepare for all scenarios.

“This will include a nationwide communications campaign on ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’ to build on the excellent work of our state agencies to date.”

- Press Association

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