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Future


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.


There is an urgent need for ambitious, cohesive and transformative economic policies and for Europe’s need to face challenges collectively, and in solidarity. But Europe must do more. The upcoming challenges are daunting: not just the ecological and economic failure brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and the risk of a debt-deflationary downward economic spiral,  but also the economic divergences that have led to the rise of anti-Europe sentiment, nationalism and populism; and the grave, even terrifying ecological risks that transcend borders.  

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

'Building a New Social Contract – Policy Recommendations’ contains more than eighty specific policy recommendations that would go a considerable direction towards a new social contract to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of everyone and ensure that a no-one is left behind as our economy and society recovers from the impact of Covid-19.


A sustainable environment, a sustainable society and a sustainable economy require thriving communities across the entire country, but especially in rural areas.  It requires leadership and commitment on the policies required to move to a low carbon future, and also requires that we measure what counts.

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.

Technological change is coming whether we like it or not.  The question is are we doing enough to prepare for it?  More specifically are we doing enough to support those workers who will be most impacted by the changes that are on the horizon?

The theme of the 2019 annual edition of Employment and Social Developments in Europe is sustainability.  The report explores how the EU can support the transition to a socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable economy that benefits the well-being of all and leaves nobody behind.

The UN Climate Action Summit 2019 begins in New York today.  The purpose of the summit is for countries who signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 to bring concrete, realistic and effective plans to meet 2020 targets and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent in the next ten years.  What plan does Ireland have to fully transform the economy in line with the sustainable development goals?

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