Ibec Europe & Global Focus

Welcome to the 15th edition of Ibec Europe & Global Focus our regular publication on the major issues impacting business at EU and international level. 

As we publish this edition, Ireland, along with most of Europe, is in a Level 5 ‘lockdown’ in response to a second wave of COVID-19, with business and society facing restrictions similar to those experienced earlier this year. While the restrictions appear to be lowering cases of the virus, business – in particular retail and hospitality - face into an uncertain Christmas trading period. The announcement of progress on developing and producing vaccines for COVID-19, however, provides some positive news as we look forward to 2021. 

While the world grapples with the second wave, the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election, held on 3 November, has become clear. Former Vice-President and 2020 Democratic nominee Joe Biden defeated incumbent Republican U.S. President Donald Trump and in an historic victory. After winning the recount for the state of Georgia most recent figures indicate that Biden won 306 electoral votes and 79.6 million of the popular vote.

As the end of the Brexit transition period approaches, we take stock of the EU-UK negotiations. While a third deadline has been missed the talks continue to progress without interruption. The omnipresent areas of disagreement, the level playing field (subsidy rules and regulatory standards), fisheries, and governance, including dispute settlement mechanisms, persist. The necessary compromises will require high-level political decisions if a deal is to be reached. We examine the challenges of the Internal Market Bill and how it impacts on the Northern Ireland Protocol. Lastly, we provide a trade and customs to-do list to get your business Brexit ready. 

On general EU Affairs, we analyse the European Commission’s ‘State of the Union’ and the Commission’s 2021 Work Programme. Commission President von der Leyen’s speech formed the basis of this programme’s agenda, focusing on green, digital, health and economy related proposals. 

We examine WTO concerns such as the Airbus-Boeing dispute which the EU has identified as crucial to improve the trading relationship with the U.S. and the contested WTO Director General competition. 

In this edition, we also profile the new Irish Commissioner Mairead McGuinness who has been appointed the Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and the Capital Markets Union and her agenda for this institutional cycle. McGuinness was formerly Vice-President of the European Parliament. We also profile Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis who is the new Commissioner for Trade. 

In our Member in Focus piece, we profile Accenture Country Managing Director (Ireland), Alastair Blair, as he steps into the role of the new Ibec President. We also include a profile on the Irish medtech industry and how the sector develops innovative solutions in a time of crisis.

Finally, in our events section we look back on an intensive series of Brexit webinars and technical sessions held in order to help Ibec members prepare for all outcomes at the end of this year.

Please contact our EU & International Affairs team in Brussels or Dublin if you wish to further discuss any of the items covered.

Ibec Europe Global Focus Issue 15 Autumn 2020 pdf | 4277.1 kb