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Policy issues concerning Economy

Ireland, like all other European countries and most other developed world states, has relied on large scale borrowing to cope with the reduction in tax revenue and pay for the various welfare and enterprise supports necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the accommodative approach of the European Central Bank has allowed Government to easily access funds and at historically low interest rates.


The Economic Recovery Plan announced today, while welcome, is not of the scale required to address the social, economic and environmental challenges that we now face. Covid-19 has brought extraordinary social and economic costs.  Alongside this, the challenges that existed pre-Covid remain and cannot be ignored

The prospect of a return to high unemployment rates post pandemic is a daunting one and reiterates the need to ensure that the labour force is equipped and educated to meet the challenges ahead. 

A recent publication by the Government’s own Parliamentary Budget Office provides an analytical model for public debt sustainability and shows, without debt consolidation or spending cuts, Ireland’s debt to income ratio over the next decade will be on a downward trajectory.

A recent Oxfam report, published for the opening day of the World Economic Forum, reveals that the world’s 10 richest men saw their wealth increase by half a trillion dollars during the pandemic, while the 1,000 richest people on the planet recouped their Covid-19 losses within just nine months.


At the European level, what the pandemic has cast doubt on is the very fundamentals of European integration. The main features of the European Union, what could be described as its “pillars”, are these: the single market and freedom of movement, the euro and the Stability and Growth Pact, and competition and state-aid law. We can already look ahead and see that the post-crisis EU could be standing on very different foundations if the questioning of the three basic pillars continues over time or, conversely, it could just as easily go back to its old ways.  What will the world environment in which this happens be, though? Here there are four possible scenarios emerging.

How normal was the world before Covid-19? The last decade has been anything but normal – whether viewed at national or European level, or in broader geopolitical terms.  We, as a planet, face a choice between attempting to develop responses cognitively through a new dialogue, political and social, or simply marching on, brainless, based on some notion of the old normal.

Social Justice Ireland was delighted to contribute to The Journal of Cross Border Studies in Ireland: Volune 15 2020 on the theme “Convergences and Divergences: Agriculture and the environment on the island of Ireland'.   

We are well aware of the short-term health, social and economic impacts of Covid-19.  But what about the long-term impacts that the pandemic has caused, partciularly the disruption to education and learning.  The latest research indicates that students impacted are facing at least a 3 per cent loss of income compared to peers in previous years throughout their lifetimes, with disadvantaged students being worst affected.  

The National Economic Plan - to be published on Budget day - must give equal weight to environmental, social and economic considerations. Otherwise, this Government will simply repeat the mistakes of the past and many will be left behind.  The National Economic Plan must be underpinned by a new social contract that treats our environment, society and economy equally

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