Erosion of Competitiveness in European Industry Has Direct Implications for the Irish Engineering Sector

May 21, 2024
  • Engineering Industries Ireland publishes policy priorities
  • Sector confidence remains fragile amidst global challenges

Engineering Industries Ireland (EII), the Ibec group representing the engineering sector, has today launched a series of policy priorities to guide engagement with policymakers in Brussels and Ireland ahead of the European elections next month and in anticipation of a general election. According to EII, the erosion of competitiveness in European industry is having direct implications for the Irish engineering sector. EII said that the Irish Government must adhere to EU commitments for evidence-based policymaking and impact assessments of the sector. A failure to prioritise competitiveness could see Ireland’s engineering manufacturing and services sectors falling behind in the global markets, with a knock-on impact on areas such as net-zero ambitions and employment.

Figures from EII show that the engineering sector exports €8.8 billion, or 3.6% of national exports, with 10,800 enterprises employing 50,751 people, 65% of which are indigenous companies. In publishing its policy priorities, the report calls on the Government to prioritise policies for enhancing competitiveness, decreasing regulatory burdens, and adopting measures aimed at driving exports, fostering innovation, and supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Director of EII, Pauline O'Flanagan, said:

"We represent a resilient and vibrant sector with many of our members at the cutting edge of automation, precision engineering, agricultural machinery, material handling, packaging, energy and environment, process engineering, automotive, and much more. Since March, we have been engaging with policymakers in Brussels and with Irish candidates running for the European Parliament to outline that, despite the success of the sector, business confidence remains fragile due to concerns about inflation, energy security, skills shortages, and regulatory burdens at both national and European levels. This is a message we will also be bringing to the Government as we head towards a general election."

Ed Byrne, Galco Steel, Group Managing Director & Chairman of EII, said:

"The sector plays a pivotal role in advancing innovation in carbon-neutral energy, electrification, and clean manufacturing technologies essential for achieving net-zero emissions. Despite facing significant challenges, Irish engineering businesses have demonstrated strong resilience, but we cannot be complacent. It is important we continue to support the sector, particularly as the impact of new labour, digital, and green legislation has yet to be fully realised by businesses."

Policy Priorities:

  • Making competitiveness the top priority by reducing regulatory burden
  • Transitioning to a more sustainable energy future by investing in renewable energy
  • Developing, attracting, and retaining talent by addressing skills shortages
  • Expanding our product’s reach globally by removing trade barriers
  • Enhancing Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practices by supporting sustainable businesses
  • Fostering diversity and inclusivity within our businesses by encouraging inclusive work environments

Full report attached