Representation in Ireland

European Commission

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Commissioner Pierre Moscovici presenting the forecasts
Commissioner Pierre Moscovici presenting the forecasts

In its Autumn 2018 Economic Forecast published this morning, the European Commission revised upwards its growth predictions for Ireland for 2018 and 2019 (see attached table) compared to the Summer 2018 forecasts. GDP growth for Ireland is now forecast to reach 7.8% in 2018 and 4.5% in 2019. 

The Ireland country report says: "GDP growth in Ireland is expected to be strong this year, driven largely by the activities of multinational companies, but the pace is projected to moderate. The positive performance of the labour market and construction investment are expected to support the domestic economy in the near term. The government deficit is projected to turn slowly into a surplus, but risks to the fiscal outlook remain."

Download the report at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/economy-finance/ecfin_forecast_autumn_081018_ie_en.pdf

08/11/2018

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Table showing key figures for Ireland
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Autumn 2018 Economic Forecast: sustained but less dynamic growth amid high uncertainty

Growth in the euro area is forecast to ease from a 10-year high of 2.4% in 2017 to 2.1% in 2018 before moderating further to 1.9% in 2019 and 1.7% in 2020. The same pattern is expected for the EU27, with growth forecast at 2.2% in 2018, 2.0% in 2019 and 1.9% in 2020.

Last year's exceptionally benign global situation helped to underpin strong economic activity and investment in the EU and euro area.
Despite a more uncertain environment, all Member States are forecast to continue growing, though at a slower pace, thanks to the strength of domestic consumption and investment. Barring major shocks, Europe should be able to sustain above-potential economic growth, robust job creation and falling unemployment. However, this baseline scenario is subject to a growing number of interconnected downside risks.

Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: "All EU economies are set to grow this year and next, which will bring more jobs. However, uncertainty and risks, both external and internal, are on the rise and start to take a toll on the pace of economic activity. We need to stay vigilant and work harder to reinforce the resilience of our economies. At EU level, it means taking concrete decisions on further strengthening our Economic and Monetary Union. At national level, there is even a stronger case for building up fiscal buffers and reducing debt while making sure that the benefits of growth are also felt by the most vulnerable members of society." 

Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: ‘“The European economy is holding up well, with growth easing gradually. We project this pattern will continue over the next two years, as unemployment continues to fall to levels not seen since before the crisis. Public debt in the euro area is set to continue declining, with the deficit remaining well below 1% of GDP. In an increasingly uncertain international environment, policy-makers both in Brussels and in national capitals must work to ensure that the euro area is strong enough to deal with whatever the future might hold.”

Domestic demand to drive growth

Rising global uncertainty, international trade tensions and higher oil prices will have a dampening effect on growth in Europe. Following years of robust employment growth, the prospect of a slowdown in labour market improvements and of increasing supply side constraints in some Member States could also add to this dampening effect.

The drivers of growth are set to become increasingly domestic: private consumption should benefit from stronger wage growth and fiscal measures in some Member States. Financing conditions and high rates of capacity utilisation are also expected to remain supportive of investment. For the first time since 2007, investment is expected to increase in all Member States in 2019.

Taking all of these factors into account, gross domestic product (GDP) in all Member States should continue to grow but the pace is set to slow and appears somewhat weaker than expected in the summer. 

Unemployment continues to fall

Labour market conditions continued to improve in the first half of 2018, with employment growth remaining steady even as economic growth cooled.

Job creation is set to continue to benefit from continued growth and structural reform implementation in some Member States. Unemployment should continue to fall but at a slower pace than in the past, as employment growth is eventually dampened by increasing labour shortages and slower economic growth.

Unemployment in the euro area is expected to fall to 8.4% this year and then to 7.9% in 2019 and 7.5% in 2020. In the EU27, unemployment is forecast at 7.4% this year before falling to 7% in 2019 and 6.6% in 2020. This would represent the lowest unemployment rate recorded since the start of the monthly unemployment series in January 2000.

Inflation driven by oil prices

Headline inflation is forecast to remain moderate over the forecast period. In the euro area, inflation is set to reach 1.8% in 2018 and 2019 and to slow to 1.6% in 2020.

The rise in oil prices has pushed up inflation this year and strong positive base effects are expected to continue into the first quarter of next year. While core inflation, which excludes energy and unprocessed food prices, has been relatively muted so far this year, it is expected to reassert itself as the main driver of headline inflation in 2020, as wages rise amid tightening labour markets.

Public finances: debt levels are decreasing and the aggregate euro area public deficit is now below 1%

The euro area's general government deficit is projected to continue declining relative to GDP this year, thanks to lower interest expenditure. This decline is set to come to a halt next year for the first time since 2009, as the fiscal stance turns slightly expansionary in 2019 before turning broadly neutral in 2020. The euro area's general government deficit is expected to increase from 0.6% of GDP in 2018 to 0.8% in 2019 and to decline to 0.7% in 2020. For the EU27, the general government deficit is expected to increase from 0.6% of GDP in 2018 to 0.8% in 2019 and to decline to 0.6% in 2020. Overall, the trend remains one of sizeable improvements compared to ten years ago, in 2009, where the deficit level peaked at 6.2% in the euro area, and at 6.6% in the EU.

Debt-to-GDP ratios are projected to continue to fall in the euro area and in almost all Member States, supported by debt-decreasing primary surpluses and continued growth. The euro area debt-to-GDP ratio is set to fall from 86.9% in 2018 to 84.9% in 2019 and to 82.8% in 2020, down from a peak of 94.2% in 2014. In the EU27, the general government debt ratio is set to fall from 80.6% of GDP in 2018 to 78.6% in 2019 and 76.7% in 2020.

Many interrelated risks and uncertainty cloud the outlook

There is a high degree of uncertainty surrounding the forecast and there are many interconnected downside risks. The materialisation of any of these risks could amplify the others and magnify their impact.

Overheating in the US, fuelled by pro-cyclical fiscal stimulus, could lead to interest rates rising faster than expected, which would have numerous negative spillover effects beyond the US, particularly in emerging markets which are vulnerable to changes in capital flows and exposed to US dollar-denominated debt. This could exacerbate financial market tensions. The EU could also suffer given its strong trade links and banks' exposure.

The expected widening of the US current account deficit could also stoke further trade tensions with China. This could raise the risk of a disorderly adjustment in China, given the level of corporate debt and financial fragility. Any increase in trade tensions would also hurt the EU through its effect on confidence, investment and its high integration in global value chains.

Within the EU, doubts about the quality and sustainability of public finances in highly indebted Member States could spill over to domestic banking sectors, raising financial stability concerns and weighing on economic activity.

Finally, risks related to the outcome of the Brexit negotiations also remain.

For the United Kingdom, a purely technical assumption for 2019 and 2020

To allow for a comparison over time, the projections cover all 28 Member States, including the United Kingdom. Given the ongoing negotiations on the terms of the UK's withdrawal from the EU, our projections are based on a purely technical assumption of status quo in terms of trading relations between the EU27 and the UK. This is for forecasting purposes only and has no bearing on the talks underway in the context of the Article 50 process.

Background

This forecast is based on a set of technical assumptions concerning exchange rates, interest rates and commodity prices with a cut-off date of 22 October 2018. For all other incoming data, including assumptions about government policies, this forecast takes into consideration information up until and including 22 October. Unless policies are credibly announced and specified in adequate detail, the projections assume no policy changes.

The European Commission's next forecast will be an update of GDP and inflation projections in the Winter 2019 Interim Economic Forecast in February 2019.

As of this year, the European Commission has reverted to publishing two comprehensive forecasts (spring and autumn) and two interim forecasts (winter and summer) each year, instead of the three comprehensive forecasts in winter, spring and autumn that it has produced each year since 2012. The interim forecasts cover annual and quarterly GDP and inflation for the current and following year for all Member States and the euro area, as well as EU aggregates. This change is a return to the Commission's previous pattern of forecasts and brings the Commission's forecast schedule back into line with those of other institutions (e.g. the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).

For More Information

Full document: Autumn 2018 Economic Forecast

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EU Research Commissioner Carlos Moedas presenting the Strategy
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The European Commission has put forward an action plan to develop a sustainable and circular bioeconomy that serves Europe's society, environment and economy. The new bioeconomy strategy aims to improve and scale up the sustainable use of renewable resources to address global and local challenges such as climate change and sustainable development.

In a world of finite biological resources and ecosystems, an innovation effort is needed to feed people, and provide them with clean water and energy. The bioeconomy can turn algae into fuel, recycle plastic, convert waste into new furniture or clothing or transform industrial by-products into bio-based fertilisers. It has the potential to generate 1 million new green jobs by 2030.

11/10/2018

Delivering a sustainable circular bioeconomy requires a concerted effort by public authorities and industry. To drive this collective effort, and based on three key objectives, the Commission will launch 14 concrete measures in 2019, including:

1. Scaling up and strengthening the bio-based sectors:

To unleash the potential of the bioeconomy to modernise the European economy and industries for long-term, sustainable prosperity, the Commission will:

  • establish a €100 million Circular Bioeconomy Thematic Investment Platform to bring bio-based innovations closer to the market and de-risk private investments in sustainable solutions;
  • facilitate the development of new sustainable bio-refineries across Europe.

2. Rapidly deploying bioeconomies across Europe:

Member States and regions, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, have a large underused biomass and waste potential. To address this, the Commission will:

  • develop a strategic deployment agenda for sustainable food and farming systems, forestry and bio-based products;
  • set up an EU Bioeconomy Policy Support Facility for EU countries under Horizon 2020 to develop national and regional bioeconomy agendas;
  • launch pilot actions for the development of bioeconomies in rural, coastal and urban areas, for example on waste management or carbon farming.

3. Protecting the ecosystem and understanding the ecological limitations of the bioeconomy

Our ecosystem is faced with severe threats and challenges, such as a growing population, climate change and land degradation. In order to tackle these challenges, the Commission will:

  • implement an EU-wide monitoring system to track progress towards a sustainable and circular bioeconomy;
  • enhance our knowledge base and understanding of specific bioeconomy areas by gathering data and ensuring better access to it through the Knowledge Centre for the Bioeconomy;
  • provide guidance and promote good practices on how to operate in the bioeconomy within safe ecological limits.

Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen said: "It has become evident that we need to make a systemic change in the way we produce, consume and discard goods. By developing our bioeconomy – the renewable segment of the circular economy – we can find new and innovative ways of providing food, products and energy, without exhausting our planet's limited biological resources. Moreover, rethinking our economy and modernising our production models is not just about our environment and climate. There is also great potential here for new green jobs, particularly in rural and coastal areas."

Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, added: "The EU aims to lead the way in turning waste, residue and discards into high value products, green chemicals, feed and textiles. Research and innovation plays a key role in accelerating the green transition of the European economy and in meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals."

The Commission is hosting a conference on 22 October in Brussels to discuss the action plan with stakeholders and highlight tangible bio-based products.

Background

In their letter of intent to the Presidencies of the European Council and Parliament, President Juncker and First Vice-President Timmermans announced this Communication as part of the Commission's priority to boost jobs, growth and investment in the EU. It is an update to the 2012 Bioeconomy Strategy.

The bioeconomy covers all sectors and systems that rely on biological resources. It is one of the EU's largest and most important sectors encompassing agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food, bio-energy and bio-based products with an annual turnover of around €2 trillion and around 18 million people employed. It is also a key area for boosting growth in rural and coastal areas.

The EU already funds research, demonstration and deployment of sustainable, inclusive and circular bio-based solutions, including with €3.85 billion allocated under the current EU funding programme Horizon 2020. For 2021-2027, the Commission has proposed to allocate €10 billion under Horizon Europe for food and natural resources, including the bioeconomy.

For More Information

The following documents are available here:

  • The new Bioeconomy Strategy
  • Factsheet
  • Booklet
  • Infographic
  • Video

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

Ahead of the Informal Leaders' meeting on 23 February 2018, the European Commission has presented a number of practical steps that could make the European Union's work more efficient, and improve the connection between the leaders of the EU institutions and the citizens of Europe.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "With the Bratislava Roadmap, the Rome Declaration and now the Leaders' Agenda, Europe has rightly been focused on creating a Union that delivers concrete and tangible results for its citizens on the issues that matter to them. We must continue on this path. I have always said that form should follow function – now is not the time for long discussions of institutional reform or Treaty change. There are, however, a number of steps we can take to make our work even more efficient in delivering on our key priorities. There are many options but the goal must be one and the same: creating a Europe that delivers."

14/02/2018

Lead Candidates: Building on the 2014 "Spitzenkandidaten" experience

The 2014 election process strengthened the relationship between the three EU institutions and improved the efficiency of their work. It helped them to align themselves around a common work programme for the five year mandate. This is what enabled the Juncker Commission to work in a more political way and concentrate on where the Union delivers the best results, leaving the rest to Member States.

In his 2017 State of the Union Address, President Juncker said that the 2014 'lead candidate' experiment should continue. Today, the European Commission is setting out how the process can be improved on the basis of the current Treaties while respecting the balance between the EU institutions and among the Member States. This includes calling on political parties to make an earlier choice of the lead candidates, before the end of 2018, and for an earlier start to the campaign. This would give voters more opportunity to identify with the candidates and the political programmes they stand for.

The Commission is also recommending the link between national parties and European parties be made more visible. Political parties at national level should boost transparency about the European parties they are affiliated to, for example by using their logos in campaign and ballot material. They should also position themselves clearly on important European issues and express their intention for participating in political groups in the European Parliament and their choice for European Commission President.

Composition of the European Parliament and the European Commission

Leaders in the European Council have to decide – on the basis of a proposal from the European Parliament – on the composition of the European Parliament for the 2019-2024 term and what to do with the seats left vacant by the UK. One option is to reserve a number of these seats for a transnational constituency. Whilst in a recent Resolution (from 7 February), the European Parliament voted not to call for the creation of a transnational constituency, it did leave the door open for future debates. A number of Member States have recently expressed support for this idea, whereas others have expressed their disagreement with its establishment. A transnational constituency could strengthen the European dimension of the election by giving candidates the possibility to reach more citizens across Europe. On the other hand, parliamentarians normally represent and communicate closely with the voters who elected them on a local or national level, both for reasons of accountability and to be able to raise concerns of their constituents. The Commission is sympathetic to the idea of transnational lists, but this will require unanimous agreement of the Council, and changes to electoral law in all 27 Member States in the next year to be applied for the 2019 elections.

The College of Commissioners currently consists of 28 members, one from each Member State – in line with a Decision of the European Council from 22 May 2013. Before the next European Commission is appointed, leaders will have to decide whether to maintain the principle of one Member from each Member State, or to make the Commission smaller. A smaller executive would in theory be more efficient in its operation, easier to manage and would allow a more balanced distribution of portfolios. But a smaller Commission would also mean that some Member States would not be represented at the political level of the institution, and would lose the advantage of maintaining a direct political communication channel with their citizens and national authorities.

A Double-Hatted President for the Commission and Council

In his State of the Union speech in 2017, President Juncker first suggested the idea of a double-hatted President. A single person holding the two offices of President of the European Council and President of the European Commission could make the structure of the Union more efficient. This is possible under the current Treaties. A dual appointment does not require merging the two institutions. The President of the European Commission is already a Member of the European Council, and neither of the two Presidents vote in the European Council; their role is to advise, bring input from the work of their services, help to build bridges and map out common ground.

Citizens' Dialogues

The European Commission regularly organises Citizens' Dialogues with Members of the Commission, the European Parliament, national governments, local and regional authorities and civil society representatives. Almost 500 of these interactive public debates have been held in 160 locations since 2012, and the Commission will increase their frequency between now and the European elections in May 2019, with a target of reaching around 500 more events. The Commission also welcomes the initiatives of individual Member States to organise their own national conversations with citizens on the future of Europe and is ready to offer its support where it can, for example by linking the process to the online consultation on the future of Europe which could remain open until 9 May 2019. The Commission will share the benefits of its experience with Member States.

Background

Today's proposed ideas and options are a direct follow-up to the European Commission's report (from 8 May 2015) on the 2014 European Parliament elections which pledged to identify ways of further enhancing the European dimension and the democratic legitimacy of the EU decision-making process, and to examine further, and seek to address, the reasons for the persistently low turnout in some Member States.

For more information

Communication: A Europe that Delivers: Institutional options for making the EU's work more efficient

Recommendation: on enhancing the European nature and efficient conduct of the 2019 elections to the European Parliament

European Commission Report on the 2014 European Parliament elections

2018 report on European and municipal elections

Factsheets:

  • Options for making the European Union's work more efficient
  • The composition of the European Parliament and European Council – what to expect in 2019
  • The birth of the 'Spitzenkadidaten' and the 2014 European election campaign
  • Dialogue with citizens ahead of the European elections
  • New rules for making the 2019 European elections more transparent
  • A double-hatted President?
  • Visits and meetings of Members of the Commission with national Parliaments since the beginning of the mandate

The Irish Government’s Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and the European Commission are jointly organising a conference: 'Irish as a full official and working language of the EU'. It will take place in the Aston Suite, O'Callaghan Alexander Hotel, Merrion Square, Dublin 2 on 21 October 2016 at 9.00am. The conference opens with keynote speeches from Mr Seán Kyne T.D., Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Mr Rytis Martikonis, Director General, Directorate-General for Translation, European Commission.

14/10/2016

Following Ireland's decision to make Irish a full official and working language of the EU as of January 2022, the EU institutions are preparing to implement the measures required to give effect to that decision. Successful completion of this work will require close cooperation between the EU institutions and Ireland to build up the human, technical and linguistic resources required. This conference brings together the main stakeholders in this project.

The programme will encompass many aspects of the ongoing and future work of supplying qualified professionals for the full Irish language regime, including the preparation of candidates for the competitions, building the freelance sector, developing linguistic resources, interpreting and machine technology for Irish. An interpretation service will be provided at the conference. There will be a Question and Answer session for the participants and opportunities for the press to interview speakers and participants during the breaks.

 

Annual events

Thursday 22 November: Annual Young Translators (Juvenes Translatores) competition The European Commission's translation department is invitimg students from across Europe to test their translation skills in the 12th edition of...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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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

On 12 September 2018, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, will deliver the latest State of the Union speech of his presidency. 

To mark this occasion, the Institute of International and European Affairs and the European Commission Representation in Ireland will co-host a live screening of President Juncker’s address to the European Parliament, followed by discussion among an expert panel on the key messages of the speech and the outlook for the remainder of President Juncker’s tenure.

Date: 
12/09/2018 - 07:30 to 10:00

The speech will be web-streamed live below.

The Panel speakers include:

  • Dr Mary C. Murphy, Jean Monnet Chair in European Integration at University College Cork;
  • Barry Andrews, Director General of the Institute of International and European Affairs;
  • Noelle O’Connell, Executive Director of European Movement Ireland.

The discussion will be moderated by Gerry Kiely, Head of Representation of the European Commission in Ireland.

The event takes place at Europe House, 12-14 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2, from 7.30 to 10 am.

If you are interested in attending this event, please register in advance at: https://www.iiea.com/event/state-of-the-european-union-live-streaming-and-panel-discussion/

Finally, ‘This Time I’m Voting’ – Promoting the 2019 European Elections - In May 2019, Europeans will head to the polls and cast their vote in the 2019 European elections. From climate change to Brexit, Europe has faced numerous challenges in recent years. The European Parliament is looking to build a community of supporters to encourage people to vote in the next election. The goal is not to advocate whom people should vote for: it is to advocate the act of voting itself, the act of engaging in the democratic process; and the act of doing so in a conscious and fully informed way.

If you are interested in being part of this campaign, the European Parliament will be hosting a Welcome Event directly after the panel discussion. For further information, please contact Michael Bruton, European Parliament Liaison Office in Ireland, Tel: 01 6057922, email: michael.bruton@ep.europa.eu.

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

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