Brexit continues to dominate the agenda. Here's a quick update on how Ibec is representing your interests as the situation evolves:
· In London yesterday colleagues and I met the Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Carolyn Fairbairn. We agreed to work closely to ensure that the British-Irish and all-island economic ties are not compromised in an exit deal. This is one of the biggest challenges facing Ireland and it demands a concerted and sophisticated approach. Shaping the debate from the outset is crucial.
· Ibec also held talks with the Irish Embassy in London, identifying key areas where business and the Department of Foreign Affairs could work together to influence and shape the Brexit debate. Ibec will now establish structured engagement with the Embassy, Westminster and Whitehall to communicate the Irish business perspective and put forward pragmatic solutions.
· I also took the opportunity to brief the Financial Times on the Irish position and provided a context to the recent Irish economic growth figures.
· On Wednesday, Ibec met leaders of the largest European business organisations, including the CBI, at a specially convened meeting of BusinessEurope in Milan. Different federations come with different national perspectives, as do we, but we share much common ground. All favour the closest possible economic ties with the UK and their continued access to the single market. UK demands around migration control will prove a sticking point. There is no appetite in the rest of Europe for any compromise on the principle of free movement.
· Last week we set out the measures that our own government needs to adopt in Budget 2017 to off-set Brexit risks. In the first instance we need to focus on policy issues within our control. The UK has moved quickly and aggressively to improve its business offering. We need to respond with a similar resolve. October's budget should significantly improve the business and personal tax offering, and set out ambitious investment commitments. For full details see: www.ibec.ie/0/Budget2017
· On Monday Ibec and the CBI Northern Ireland will launch a major report setting out a new vision for the all-island economy. It calls for a deepening of North/South economic cooperation, along with major investment to better connect all parts of the island. The Brexit vote presents a very different political backdrop to all-island relations and throws up unique dilemmas. French President Francois Hollande's acknowledgement that Ireland should have a special place in negotiations is welcome. A concerted and coordinated policy response is now required.
Over the coming weeks, Ibec will be working closely with you, our members, to clearly define the specific concerns of different sectors and regions around Brexit. We are here to support you as you make contingency plans and can provide context and insights directly to the leadership teams and boards of member companies. Let me know if you would like to avail of this service.
As I have touched on above, Ibec is working to ensure the interests of Irish business are forcefully represented in this pre-negotiation period. No other organisation has the reach, connections and influence of Ibec, and we are putting in place a detailed, pro-active strategy to address member needs. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, keep me updated on your work and plans around Brexit, and get in touch if we can help in any way.
Have a good weekend.
Friday, 22 July 2016