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Policy issues concerning Economy


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

Ireland's Quarterly National Accounts, published earlier this week, serve to underline the detachment between many of Ireland's headline economic statistics and life on the ground.

Over one million people were in receipt of  COVID-19-related income supports as of May this year.  584,641 were in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and 473,500 people had availed of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS).  These numbers have been decreasing as the economy slowly starts to open again, those who needed to avail of loan repayment breaks and rent freezes will face likely financial distress.

The most competitive economies of Europe all collect substantially more tax than Ireland does. The evidence suggests that a low tax, low service strategy for attracting investment is short-sighted and that quality education, infrastructure and services are far more important.

A vibrant economy is most important if Ireland is to produce a fairer future for all.  To secure such a future requires us to learn from our mistakes in the past.   Solid policies are required that secure the best future for all. 

As we look towards the future and rebuilding our society and our economy the new Government must consider how we can ensure that our recovery package and investment priorities post COVID-19 help us build a sustainable society and economy, and also move us towards a just transition and meeting our climate targets by 2030.

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