I hope you are keeping well. I wanted to give a quick update on two important topics, the upcoming UK referendum on EU membership and the Programme for Government.
I am just back from a series of meetings in London over the last two days where I met key editors and journalists from the main media outlets, including the BBC, Telegraph, Times, Guardian, The Wall St Journal and CNBC. I also met senior Irish journalists working in the city and was interviewed by Bloomberg TV and the Financial Times online.
There's a fine line between making a respectful observation on the implications of a democratic vote in another country and overstepping the mark. However, there was a genuine interest, appetite and appreciation for an Irish perspective. The outcome will potentially have an enormous impact on Ireland, Irish business and the wider EU for that matter. Ibec has put together a report on the impact of a possible Brexit on Irish business, available at www.ibec.ie/0/Brexit. It would be negligent to remain silent, especially as the polls are so close.
In Ibec we have taken the lead in setting out the risks and we are working closely with government, the CBI and the main campaign groups in the UK to support efforts to keep Britain in the European Union. Britain is our closest ally and friend in Europe; an EU without the UK would be a lesser Union. I will keep you updated and please get in touch if you would like more information.
Closer to home, Ibec has produced a detailed analysis of the new Programme for Government, which is available at www.ibec.ie/0/Programme. We have also begun to set out directly to government departments the perspective of business on the key issues. Over the coming weeks we will be meeting the new ministers and their teams, and setting out the role that business can play in the next phase of the country's economic and social development.
There are massive opportunities, if government has the courage, determination and ambition to grasp them. Strong economic growth and low interest rates create a unique opportunity to improve the national infrastructure, reform the delivery of public services and foster a dynamic enterprise economy. The Ibec position led the national news this week, have a listen here.
Significantly ramping up the level of capital investment spending will require a more flexible approach to how EU fiscal rules are applied. Ibec has been hammering home the point over the last few years; it's good to see others coming around to the same view. I have raised the issue at the highest levels with the Commission, speaking directly with EU Vice President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen and Senior Vice President of the EU Parliament Antonio Tajani in Brussels last week. Ibec has also highlighted the need for flexibility regarding the application of EU fiscal rules with other national governments and other European business federations. The Government needs to work to secure a political agreement in Brussels; we'll be supporting their efforts.
If you have any queries or observations, let me know. It's always good to hear from you.
Friday, 20 May 2016