Representation in Ireland

EU

Staff from the European Commission, in liaison with staff from the European Central Bank, visited Dublin from 28 November to 1 December 2017 to conduct the eighth post-programme surveillance (PPS) review mission for Ireland. The main objective of PPS is to assess the country’s capacity to repay the loans granted under the former EU-IMF financial assistance programme and, if necessary, to recommend corrective actions.

20/02/2018

The strong momentum in the Irish economy is expected to continue in the short term, but risks remain. While the headline figures remain volatile and heavily influenced by the activities of multinational enterprises, underlying domestic activity is growing at a solid pace, buoyed by robust employment growth, private consumption and strong investment in construction. Risks to the economic outlook relate primarily to the outcome of the negotiations regarding the UK’s exit from the European Union and potential changes to the international taxation environment. Risks could also arise in the event of continued strong increases in property prices over the medium term.

Public finances have further improved on the back of robust output growth, yet risks of volatility in some forms of tax revenue remain. Overall 2017 tax revenues increased at a healthy rate. Although corporation tax receipts came in better than expected, this was mostly offset by shortfalls against other main sources of tax revenue, such as income tax, excise duties and VAT. Overall government expenditure in 2017 has been within budget allocations. Irish public indebtedness has diminished in recent years, but remains elevated. The strong cyclical situation, coupled with a high degree of volatility in corporation tax revenue and heightened economic uncertainty over the medium-term implies a strong case for broadening the tax base and building fiscal buffers.

Banks continue to improve their resilience amid heightened uncertainty. Improved capital buffers should help them navigate possible impacts stemming from the UK’s withdrawal from the EU while continuing to deal with legacy issues. Strong economic growth and investor appetite for Irish assets improve banks' overall asset quality. On 23 June 2017 the government sold 28.75% of its stake in Allied Irish Banks, raising EUR 3.4 billion, the proceeds of which were used to reduce government debt. Although rising property prices are supporting the repair of banks' and households' balance sheets, the sustainability of such developments warrants continued attention. While a recovery in credit demand is observed for certain categories of loans, private debt repayments are still dominant, which makes future profitability less certain. The macroprudential framework is crucial for ensuring households’ and banks’ resilience in the current housing market dynamics. SME access to finance could be challenged by spillovers on the real sector from the UK. Concerns remain that the draft bill enabling the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) to cap interest rates on variable rate mortgages, if enacted, could have negative implications for the transmission of monetary policy, financial stability and bank competition.

While notable progress in the reduction of non-performing loans (NPLs) has been made and focus is shifting towards new lending, continued efforts to deal with legacy issues remain necessary. The stock of non-performing loans continued to decline but remains elevated, with the high share of long-term arrears, in particular mortgages, still being a concern. Domestic banks are now being active as sellers and buyers of loan portfolios. While public confidence in the banks has been dented by the mismanagement of a number of tracker mortgages, there is no evidence that this has impacted the behaviour of retail customers.

Persistent supply shortages coupled with increasing demand continue to drive strong increases in residential property prices and rents. House prices continued to rise in 2017, with an annual increase of 11.6% in November, moderating from more than a two-year high in September. Rents are above their peak 2008 level. New mortgage credit is starting to increase, albeit from a low base. The government has taken a number of measures to support the recovery of housing supply. Despite recent increases, housing output remains well below the level needed to address long-term housing demand adequately. Residential property transactions have risen gradually over the past couple of years yet remain subdued overall on the back of the limited housing stock.

Risks for Ireland's capacity to service the European Financial Stability Mechanism (EFSM) and European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) debt remain low. Market access conditions for the Irish sovereign remain favourable. The debt sustainability analysis shows that the public debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to decrease further in the medium-term but remains vulnerable to economic shocks. The completed early and full repayment of the outstanding IMF loans together with bilateral loans from Denmark and Sweden further reduces Ireland’s interest repayment burden, and smoothens and extends the debt maturity profile. The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) plans to maintain strong cash buffers in advance of large redemptions over the medium term, notably in 2019 and 2020.

Ireland’s macro-economic imbalances continue to unwind amid strong economic growth and following policy actions. In February 2017, Ireland was identified as experiencing macroeconomic imbalances, which require specific monitoring in the context of the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure. These imbalances are largely legacy issues relating to large stocks of public and private debt and net external liabilities, high levels of non-performing loans and real house price increases. Household debt remained broadly unchanged in 2017. While the situation of non-financial companies is more difficult to interpret given the weight of multinationals on total corporate debt, it is clear that most indigenous firms keep reducing their debt. While the high negative level of net international investment position appears to be driven by factors disconnected from the domestic economy, the external sustainability of the domestic sector is gradually improving due to current account surpluses. The government has taken measures to address public debt and housing supply shortages, but challenges remain.

The next PPS mission is planned to take place in spring 2018.

Link to the report:

Post-Programme Surveillance Report. Ireland, Autumn 2017

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Visitors at the EU stand at this year's BT Young Scientists Competition
Visitors at the EU stand at this year's BT Young Scientists Competition

There’s so much to see and do at the European Union stand this year!

Dr How’s Science Wows Needs You – Fun, interactive science with Dr. How’s Science Wows; check out a wide range of science experiments from making mini fire extinguishers to inflating balloons and making your own slime. Hands-on, educational and imaginative science!

Want to learn about growing food in space? We invite you to discover the ground-breaking EDEN ISS project, which is developing food production for on-board the International Space Station (ISS) and for future human space exploration vehicles and planetary outposts. The stand includes a scaled down replica of the mission test lab.

Free resources about the European Union will be available for all visitors. Information Officers will also be available to answer any queries you may have about the EU.

Date: 
10/01/2018 - 08:00 to 13/01/2018 - 18:00

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Council President Donald Tusk, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

In the run-up to tomorrow's G20 conference, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have signed an agreement to go forward with opening up key EU-Japan markets.

Ireland's exports to Japan in 2015 were worth over €7 billion, while we imported almost €2.8 billion worth of goods and services (CSO figs). A deal with Japan gives Irish businesses, and agriculture in particular, major new opportunities.

06/07/2017

There is a very complete package of facts and stats published by the Brussels press service for which you will get live links on this webpage.

Attached is one of these, a closer look at trade in agriculture with Japan, particularly important for Ireland.

The European Union and Japan have reached today an agreement in principle on the main elements of an EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. This will be the most important bilateral trade agreement ever concluded by the EU and as such will for the first time include a specific commitment to the Paris climate agreement.

For the EU and its Member States, the Economic Partnership Agreement will remove the vast majority of duties paid by EU companies, which sum up to €1 billion annually, open the Japanese market to key EU agricultural exports and increase opportunities in a range of sectors. It sets the highest standards of labour, safety, environmental and consumer protection, fully safeguards public services and has a dedicated chapter on sustainable development. It also builds on and reinforces the high standards for the protection of personal data that both, the EU and Japan, have recently entrenched in their data protection laws.

The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, and Prime-Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe made the announcement on the conclusion of the agreement in principle during the EU-Japan Summit.

President Juncker said: "Today we agreed in principle on an Economic Partnership Agreement, the impact of which goes far beyond our shores. Through this agreement, the EU and Japan uphold their shared values and commit to the highest standards in areas such as labour, safety, environmental or consumer protection. Through mutual adequacy decisions, we also make a strong commitment to uphold the fundamental right of data protection. Together, we are sending a strong message to the world that we stand for open and fair trade. As far as we are concerned, there is no protection in protectionism. Only by working together will we be able to set global standards. This will be the message that the EU and Japan will bring together to the G20 tomorrow."

Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström added: "This agreement has an enormous economic importance, but it is also a way to bring us closer. We are demonstrating that the EU and Japan, democratic and open global partners, believe in free trade. That we believe in building bridges, not walls. With Japan being the fourth largest economy of the world with a big appetite for European products, this is a deal that has a vast potential for Europe. We expect a major boost of exports in many sectors of the EU economy."

Phil Hogan, Commissioner in charge of Agriculture and Rural Development said: "This is a win-win for both partners, but a big win for rural Europe. The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement is the most significant and far-reaching agreement ever concluded in agriculture. Today, we are setting a new standard in trade in agriculture. Tariffs on wine exports will disappear from day one of entry into force. For wine producres this means a saving of €134 million a year. Equally the Austrian Tiroler Speck, the German Münchener beer, the Belgian Jambon d'Ardenne, the Polska Wódka as well as over 200 other EU Geographical Indications will now enjoy the same level of protection in Japan that they have in Europe."

The Economic Partnership Agreement will increase EU exports and create new opportunities for European companies, big and small, their employees and consumers. The value of exports from the EU could increase by as much as €20 billion, meaning more possibilities and jobs in many EU sectors such as agriculture and food products, leather, clothing and shoes, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and others.

With regards to agricultural exports from the EU, the agreement:

  • scraps duties on many cheeses such as Gouda and Cheddar (which currently are at 29.8%) as well as on wine exports (currently at 15% on average);
  • will allow the EU to increase its beef exports to Japan substantially, while on pork there will be duty-free trade in processed meat and almost duty-free trade for fresh meat;
  • ensures the protection in Japan of more than 200 high-quality European agricultural products, so called Geographical Indications.

The agreement also opens up services markets, in particular financial services, e-commerce, telecommunications and transport. It:

  • guarantees EU companies access to the large procurement markets of Japan in 48 large cities, and removes obstacles to procurement in the economically important railway sector at national level;
  • protects sensitive economic sectors of the EU, for instance in the automotive sector, with transition periods before markets are opened.

The agreement will also strengthen Europe's leadership in shaping globalisation and the rules of global trade according to our core values and will safeguard the EU's interests and sensitivities. In doing so, it contributes to address some of the challenges identified in the reflection paper on Harnessing Globalisation presented by the Commission as part of the White Paper process.

Next Steps

Today's agreement in principle covers most aspects of the Economic Partnership Agreement. In some chapters technical details still need to be ironed out, and there are also chapters that remain outside the scope of the agreement in principle. For instance, on investment protection. The EU has put its reformed Investment Court System on the table and will reach out to all our partners, including Japan, to work towards the setting up of a Multilateral Investment Court. Other areas that require further work include regulatory cooperation and the general and institutional chapters.

Based on today's agreement in principle, negotiators from both sides will continue their work to resolve all the remaining technical issues and conclude a final text of the agreement by the end of the year. Then, the Commission will proceed to the legal verification and translation of the agreement into all EU official languages, and will consequently submit it for the approval of EU Member States and the European Parliament.

For More Information (please go to original Brussels webpage referenced above to get these links live)

Memo: key elements of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

Thematic factsheets on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement 

Infographics on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

Exporters' stories: European exporters entering the Japanese market 

Agreed chapters and negotiating documents

The agreement in principle – report submitted to Member States

Blog post by Commissioner Malmström: Agreement with Japan

Transparency in the negotiations: meetings and documents

More on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

More on trade relations between the EU and Japan

 

Annual events

Friday 9 March 2018: Model Council of the European Union debate /ireland/file/model-council-2018-winners-web1jpg_enmodel-council-2018-winners-web1.jpg The winning team from Maynooth Post Primary The annual Model Council of the European Union debate for secondary...Read more

Publications

The European Commission Representation in Ireland /ireland/file/rep-brochure-coverjpg_enrep-brochure-cover.jpg Image from the cover of the brochure The European Commission Representation in Ireland is part of the Commission’s network of representative offices throughout...Read more

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Cows being milked

New rules increasing the public intervention ceiling for Skimmed Milk Powder (SMP) from 218 000 tonnes to 350 000 tonnes formally enter into force today. This move follows a strong take-up of SMP intervention in response to the current market crisis, and follows on from the exceptional measures announced by the Commission at the March Agriculture Council.

29/06/2016

The increase in the intervention ceiling comes at a moment when the volumes of SMP bought up so far this year have already reached 296 525 tonnes, of which 218 000 tonnes via "fixed price" intervention and 78 525 tonnes via intervention tenders. This latter figure includes bids for 15 127 tonnes of SMP from twelve Member States which were accepted by the Commission last week under the tender system at a maximum price of € 169,8/100 kg (the intervention price) - as backed by last Thursday's CMO Committee. With the increased ceiling now in place, intervention buying-in of SMP has now reverted to the fixed price system. See a detailed breakdown of the quantities bought-in under public intervention and/or stored in private storage, per week and per Member State.

In his statement on the market situation to Monday's Council of Agriculture Ministers in Luxembourg, Commissioner Phil Hogan confirmed that: "The Commission is working on a support package for the dairy sector, with financial resources if necessary".

Further information

European Commission statement: SMP Intervention ceiling formally raised

We note the media reports stating that in the event of a UK withdrawal from the EU, English would cease to be an official language of the EU.

This is incorrect. The Council of Ministers, acting unanimously, decide on the rules governing the use of languages by the European institutions. In other words, any change to the EU Institutions'  language regime is subject to a unanimous vote of the Council, including Ireland.

27/06/2016

These provisions are contained in Article 342 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
 

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EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan
EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan

EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan said: "I regret but respect the decision of the British people to leave the European Union.  I echo the call of President Juncker for a swift and decisive negotiation, pursuant to Article 50, in the interests of both sides.  It's essential that we set in train the essential steps to bring clarity and stability to the 27 member bloc as quickly as possible."

23/06/2016

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EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

President Schulz, President Tusk and Prime Minister Rutte met this morning in Brussels upon the invitation of European Commission President Juncker. They discussed the outcome of the United Kingdom referendum and made the following joint statement:

23/06/2016

"In a free and democratic process, the British people have expressed their wish to leave the European Union. We regret this decision but respect it.

This is an unprecedented situation but we are united in our response. We will stand strong and uphold the EU's core values of promoting peace and the well-being of its peoples. The Union of 27 Member States will continue. The Union is the framework of our common political future. We are bound together by history, geography and common interests and will develop our cooperation on this basis. Together we will address our common challenges to generate growth, increase prosperity and ensure a safe and secure environment for our citizens. The institutions will play their full role in this endeavour.

We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be. Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty. We have rules to deal with this in an orderly way. Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union sets out the procedure to be followed if a Member State decides to leave the European Union. We stand ready to launch negotiations swiftly with the United Kingdom regarding the terms and conditions of its withdrawal from the European Union. Until this process of negotiations is over, the United Kingdom remains a member of the European Union, with all the rights and obligations that derive from this. According to the Treaties which the United Kingdom has ratified, EU law continues to apply to the full to and in the United Kingdom until it is no longer a Member.

As agreed, the “New Settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union”, reached at the European Council on 18-19 February 2016, will now not take effect and ceases to exist. There will be no renegotiation.

As regards the United Kingdom, we hope to have it as a close partner of the European Union in the future. We expect the United Kingdom to formulate its proposals in this respect. Any agreement, which will be concluded with the United Kingdom as a third country, will have to reflect the interests of both sides and be balanced in terms of rights and obligations.”

Further information

UK Referendum on Membership of the European Union: Questions & Answers

Frequently Asked Questions about accessing medical treatment in other countries in Europe

The rules and procedures to access medical treatment in another Member State differ depending on the purpose and duration of your stay there. You may be on a temporary stay,...Read more

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