CEO Update: Competitiveness and cooperation at home and aboard

April 19, 2024

Dear member,

Though there is plenty of speculation regarding the timing, we can be certain that we will have a general election in Ireland by Spring 2025. Aligned with this reality, a new Taoiseach at the helm and some new faces around the cabinet table, Ibec’s lobbying focus now is on solutions for our members achievable in realistic timeframes.

The pace and scale of Government policy-driven labour market costs and the uncoordinated manner in which they are being introduced have been major concerns for Ibec’s members.

Since their appointment we have lobbied both the Taoiseach Simon Harris and the new Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Development Peter Burke for immediate relief, such as a targeted rebate through PRSI and for a commitment to a new Competitiveness Charter. The Charter would cap the cumulative increase in any one year in labour market costs imposed on businesses and ensure better coordination of policies.

Taking a longer-term strategic view, we are also engaging across the political spectrum to ensure these priorities are reflected in manifestos and ultimately the next programme for Government. We will keep you updated on our progress.

On Monday, we published our Quarterly Economic Outlook (available here). The report notes that the Irish economy is still performing robustly, despite rising inflation and higher interest rates. However, in an environment of more moderate global growth, there is a renewed focus on productivity and innovation to ensure Ireland can continue to compete. Therefore, the decision by the Cabinet earlier in the week to delay a referendum on the European Unified Patent Court (UPC) is regrettable. Ibec has been supportive of joining the UPC since the beginning, given its benefits for lowering the cost for businesses and creating high value jobs. We will continue to encourage the Government to hold the referendum at the earliest opportunity and to put forward the strongest business case for Ireland joining the UPC.

The importance of maintaining and fostering competitiveness in Ireland and across the wider European Union was writ large in the independent report published this week on the ‘Future of the Single Market’ by former Prime Minister of Italy, Enrico Letta. Ibec engaged extensively on this report hosting a bilateral meeting with Letta during a recent visit to Dublin and meetings in Brussels as part of BusinessEurope Committees. Ibec welcomes the report’s emphasis on keeping a strong focus on free trade and openness and evolution of the Single Market. The report informed discussions at the European Council this week on Europe’s long-term competitiveness and productivity. You can learn more here and read the report in full here.

Unlocking the economic potential of the EU remains critical to Ireland’s economic success. The power of this type of cooperation, was exemplified this week when Ireland hosted D9+, 12 digitally progressive and likeminded EU Member States. The Digital Ireland Conference focused on Digital Regulation and the Future of AI. A Ministerial meeting is being held this morning at Dublin Castle and Ibec is hosting a breakfast briefing with our Digital/AI Committee, the equivalent B9+ business federations of each of the 9+ and representatives from the OECD. I look forward to updating you with the outcomes of this activity in the next CEO Update.

As always if you have any queries or feedback please do get in touch.



Danny McCoy