New report lays out future EU priorities

With a new EU Commission in place, Ibec sets out its policy agenda.


By Pat Ivory, Director of EU and International Affairs


Ibec held a well-attended launch of a new priorities document, ‘Ireland in the EU: Focus on the future’, in Brussels on 10 December 2019. At the festive event, where the guest of honour was Frances Fitzgerald MEP, Ibec set out the key areas that the new European Commission and Parliament should focus on over the next five years. The campaign document lays out six key priorities for Irish business in relation to the EU during the 2019 – 2024 institutional cycle.

These include unlocking the potential of the Single Market, embracing digital transformation, leading the world in trade and investment, embracing competitive taxation policy, respecting member state competency to design labour market and social policy, and tackling climate change. To read the full report, please visit the Ibec website.


Pictured at the report launch are Pat Ivory, Director of EU and International Affairs; Frances Fitzgerald MEP; and Danny McCoy, Ibec CEO. 

OECD tax reforms enter crucial phase

Ibec represents Irish business in discussions in Paris on possible future changes to global corporation taxation. 


By Gerard Brady, Chief Economist


Ibec continues to play an active role in representing Irish business in the ongoing process of international corporate tax reform at the OECD.


In our submission to the OECD’s Pillar 1 of the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) programme (new rules defining where companies should pay tax), we outlined our view that there is likely to be a narrow path to a solution on these issues at a global level. There is significant potential for the process to create winners and losers. On the other hand, the proposals must be adopted affirmatively by consensus if the OECD's BEPS process is to retain widespread support. That narrow path means that proposals cannot unduly disadvantage small open economies, must be grounded in the concept of value creation, and must be administrable.


If properly implemented, it could put an end to damaging tax uncertainty globally and ultimately result in a more stable global tax environment. This, in turn, would benefit the global business environment. 


On the other hand, our submission on the proposals for a minimum effective corporate tax rate (Pillar 2) outlined our reasoning as to why we think this direction of travel was ill-judged. The proposals as they stand go much further than just addressing profit shifting concerns and would impact significantly on genuine investment decisions and the economic activity of companies. They would also materially alter the ability of countries to set their own tax rates despite all evidence pointing to countries collecting as much revenue from corporate taxes as they have at any period in the past 50 years. If such a minimum tax rate is to be introduced, we argued that it must respect the rights of countries to set their own tax rates by not setting a new minimum tax rate which undermines the effectiveness of nationally set statutory rates.


We also argued that it must be based on a global blended tax rate, be targeted on wholly artificial arrangements only, include carve-outs for tax incentives which are compliant with BEPS Action 5 (such as the R&D tax credit), and be cognisant of the various legal protections for freedom of establishment and free movement of capital.


Further movement on the proposals is expected before the end of January 2020, with an ambitious timeline to arrive at a final global agreement by the end of next year. Ibec will continue to play a leading role in representing members’ interests on these issues in Paris at both the OECD and as the sole Irish representative at Business at the OECD (BIAC).


Regional series tackles workplace issues

Our Regional Insights series across several locations in Ireland saw active engagement with members on key policy areas. 


By Fergal O'Brien, Director of Policy and Public Affairs


Ibec’s Regional Insights series took place across seven locations during November. The events provided an excellent platform to engage with businesses on the priorities for their organisations and wider regional development and investment issues. The theme of this year’s events was ‘working sustainably’ and involved a focus on two of Ibec’s flagship policy campaigns – Better Lives, Better Business and Smarter World, Smarter Work.


Ibec CEO Danny McCoy provided the macroeconomic context for business and discussed the exceptional progress which the Irish economy has achieved in recent years. However, with an increase of almost one-third in the number of people at work in the past seven years and record levels of private sector investment, he argued that capacity constraints were now the single biggest risk to Ireland’s future growth prospects. Much more ambitious investment in soft infrastructure, such as higher education and upskilling, and physical capital in areas such as transport are required. Improvements in high quality public services are also needed in order to keep pace with the rapid growth in private sector employment and activity.


The discussions on the Smarter World, Smarter Work campaign reflected on the impact of recent legislative changes on workplace issues. Panel conversations also addressed issues such as the upskilling challenges facing businesses as they seek to transform their businesses at a time when the labour market is exceptionally tight and how businesses can prepare for new requirements in relation to gender pay gap reporting. 


Developments on housing, infrastructure delivery, planning reforms and Ibec’s campaign for a low carbon economy were discussed as part of the Better Lives, Better Business update. Regional policy priorities and the activities of the Regional Executive Committees were also addressed, and a range of businesses outlined their own sustainability strategies in the panel discussions.

Delegation finds goodwill in US to Ireland

Ireland Inc group including Ibec attends a series of high-level political meetings in Washington DC.




Ibec was delighted to attend the recent business delegation to Washington DC convened by Ireland Inc for a series of high-level political meetings. Our members were represented by Ibec President Pat McCann and Head of Corporate Affairs Siobhan Masterson.


The delegation was led by former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, whose political capital and strong relationships was in evidence on the trip. The programme of meetings included US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, and Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee Richie Neale and Congress members Stephanie Murphy and Brendan Boyle.


Ibec also attended an in-depth meeting with US Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue on current private sector challenges and also on possible future opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic.


Overall our observations from the visit included:


  • There is substantial goodwill towards Ireland’s story and an openness to reset the agenda in the context of Ireland’s highly globalised business model, Brexit and the Northern Ireland.
  • The generation of US politicians who supported Ireland through the Peace Process are now in the latter stages of their careers and there is a need to leverage these relationships to build a strong new network with the next generation of politicians.
  • While much of the meeting with Secretary Ross was around Irish investment in the US and tariffs, he identified two areas that Ireland could work to support the US: the development of a Joint US Ireland Action on Workforce; and the possible promotion of ‘Opportunity Zones' (low tax, pro Foreign Direct Investment districts) in the US to Irish companies.


Food Drink Ireland launches strategy

One in eight jobs in the Irish economy now linked to the domestic agri-food and drink industry.


Food Drink Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the food and drink industry, has launched a new report highlighting the main strategic challenges and opportunities to be considered by policymakers over the next 10 years. With one in eight jobs in the Irish economy now linked to the domestic food and drink industry, sustaining growth for the sector can help boost the growth of the wider economy.


The industry’s competitiveness has declined at a time when both opportunities and challenges are increasing. From a competitive standpoint, Irish infrastructure costs such as labour, energy, waste, environment and other business compliance and regulatory costs are significantly out of step against many of the EU competitor markets. Costs in general facing the sector have increased by 11% from their trough in 2011 with half of those increases coming in the past two years. Combined with the sharp depreciation of sterling since 2015, there has been a 30% increase in the cost of serving the UK market. 
A hugely important measure to mitigate the risks and challenges faced by the sector is to implement policies to control our cost base whilst providing support for companies to innovate and improve both productivity and sustainability.


Some of the recommendations outlined in the report include:
• Increase funding for enterprise-led skills development, open up the Employment Permit system to food processing operatives and increase the focus on automation and digitalisation.


• Support an ambitious EU trade agenda that promotes trade both at multilateral and bilateral levels to secure additional market access in strategic growth markets at similar tariff levels to competitors. 


• Ensure a strong focus on nationally funded research and development and involvement in transnational networks such as the EU’s Horizon programme. 


• An effective implementation of the Climate Action Plan with financing supports for abatement measures as well as sustainable packaging supports.


• Provision of the necessary resources to maintain our world class food safety regime.

Ibec in images

Ibec’s most prestigious event, thIbec President’s Dinner 2019 took place in September to celebrate the annual handover to a new President. 


More than 800 senior industry leaders representing organisations from across all key sectors of the economy attended as Pat McCann of Dalata Hotel Group took over as Ibec President 2019 - 2020 from Paraic Curtis of TE Medical, TE Connectivity.

We were delighted to be joined on the night by Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, TD, who outlined some of the main challenges facing the Irish economy, namely Brexit, the rise globally of protectionist trade policies and the competitiveness of our corporate tax regime. 

Ibec Director of Employer Relations, Maeve McElwee, delivers the keynote address at the Ibec HR Leadership Summit in Croke Park. 


Her address detailed the key findings of the group's annual HR Update, including the results of a comprehensive new pay and HR trends survey. The survey found that 77% of companies plan to increase basic pay in 2020, with a projected median pay increase of 2.5%, similar to the findings of last year’s survey. Over two-thirds said that their total pay bill would increase next year.

Sister Orla Tracey in conversation with MC Anton Savage at the Ibec HR Leadership Summit 2019. Sr. Tracey spoke of her work in advancing the status of women and the cause of peace in South Sudan.

Ibec was delighted to collaborate with Connect Fertility and host a special briefing for members to discuss how business can better support employees who may be facing fertility challenges.

A huge thank you to our speakers Barbara Nestor, Síle Seoige and Kara McGann for their empowering contributions and to all who engaged with the event.

It is clear that we all have a role to play in starting the conversations on the challenges posed by fertility treatments and its potential impact on our professional lives.

Ibec’s Regional Insights series took place across seven locations during November 2019. The events provided an excellent platform to engage with businesses on the priorities for their organisations and wider regional development and investment issues.


The theme of this year’s events was ‘working sustainably’ and involved a focus on two of Ibec’s flagship policy campaigns – Better Lives, Better Business and Smarter World, Smarter Work.


Pictured are Daire Osborne, Technical Operations Manager, Abbvie; Catherine McManus, Technical Manager, Mowi; and Fergal O'Brien, Ibec Director of Policy and Public Affairs. 

Ireland’s global medtech hub continues to gain ground with more than €529 million of investments by FDI multinationals and funding for startups publicly announced in the past 12 months.


Pictured at Medtech Rising, the group's annual flagship event, are Irish Medtech Association Chair and FIRE1 CEO Conor Hanley; ResMed President Sleep Business Jim Hollingshead; Irish Medtech Association Director Sinead Keogh; and Medtronic VP and GM Medtronic Care Management Services and Non-Intensive Diabetes Therapies Sheri Dodd.

Technology Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the industry, was delighted to announce Keywords Studios as the Technology Ireland Company of the Year 2019 at the group’s recent annual awards ceremony. 

Keywords Studios is the international market leader in global technical and creative services, supporting video game developers and publishers at every stage of the game development life cycle. In 2013, Keywords completed an IPO in London to gain access to capital markets, enabling expansion by acquisition and organic growth from cross-selling of services.


Picture at the awards are Andrew Day, CEO of Keywords Studios; Sharon Higgins, Director of Member Services, Ibec; Una Fitzpatrick, Director of Technology Ireland; and Jonathan Hyland, Chief Technology Officer of Workhuman and Chair of Technology Ireland. 

Retail Ireland Skillnet, the Ibec group that develops and delivers training and education programmes for those in the retail sector, has launched Ireland’s first national apprenticeship programme for the sector. This landmark programme is notable for its 52% female participation rate, compared to an average of just 5% across other apprenticeship schemes in Ireland.


Pictured at the launch is Brian Donaldson, Chief Operating Officer, Maxol; Ewelina O’Reilly, Pharmacy Dispenser at Boots and Apprentice on the Apprenticeship in Retail Supervision; and Oran Doherty, Retail Apprenticeship Manager, Ibec.

Financial Services Ireland was delighted to welcome Jay Bregman as the keynote speaker at the 2019 Annual Dinner. This was held in the InterContinental, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 on Wednesday, 20 November and was kindly sponsored by Accenture.

Jay Bregman is CEO of New York headquartered InsureTech startup Thimble. Originally launched as Verifly in 2016, Thimble arranges on-demand insurance solutions for over 100 small business professions.


Pictured are Sharon Higgins, Director of Member Services, Ibec; Paul Sweetman, Director of FSI; Audrey O'Mahony, MD, Accenture; and Jay Bregman, CEO, Thimble. 


Surge in demand for Ibec webinars

Service offers members online advice and insights.


Ibec continues to see a substantial growth in demand for webinars to members across a range of areas including Brexit, data protection, employment law and family leave entitlements.


The total number of attendees of Ibec Webinars in the first 11 months of 2019 was 6,929, up 33% on the number of participants last year. This number will rise further with eight webinars to be hosted in December. Overall, the number of attendees of Ibec’s webinars has quadrupled since 2017, highlighting the surging demand for this educational service.


Commenting, Anne Marie Sheil, Senior Executive Member Services, said: “In 2019, Ibec will host 89 webinars, up from 57 last year. We are seeing very strong demand among businesses for webinars who see them as an effective and productive medium for educating, training and skills updating of management and employees. We are seeing this demand across the board in the major cities such as Dublin and Cork, but also in the regions too. We are also seeing users accessing the replay facility whilst travelling overseas, optimising their productivity.”


The webinars are broadcast live but also recorded with a replay facility. This facility is proving popular with users who either cannot attend the live broadcast due to other work commitments or who work on shift patterns.


Ibec has invested in new technology and a new studio which has resulted in strong feedback from users who want to both see presenters live and to be able to engage via a live webinar survey.


The service is available to all members of Ibec, who require a password to access the portal. Please click here. Any issues accessing, contact


Ibec Business Leaders Conference 2020

The Ibec Business Leaders Conference returns on Wednesday 12 February 2020 at the Convention Centre Dublin. 


We are delighted to announce that the annual Ibec Business Leaders Conference returns on Wednesday, 12 February 2020 at The Convention Centre Dublin.


Titled ‘The Politics of Trade’, the conference will look at some of the key trends and concerns among business as we enter the twenty twenties. Currently, Ireland is prospering under a strong economy generating unprecedented tax revenue and providing quality jobs and improved living standards.  However, the global outlook remains uncertain with global tax reform, post-Brexit/border poll, rising trade tensions among the key trends and concerns for the next ten years.


The all-island economy will be a key focus for this year’s agenda  – how we protect and further develop it will be key to the economic future of Ireland and Northern Ireland.  We will also highlight and discuss key developments in international trade including the future relationship between the UK and the EU post Brexit, and from there we will look at the implications for the Irish economy of global tax reform spurred by the tax challenges of digitalization.


Keynote presentations will be given by Fintan O’Toole, Irish columnist, Beth Rigby, Sky Political Editor, and Dr Keyu Jin, Economics Professor in the London School of Economics. More speakers and agenda details will be announced shortly. 

The event will be a half-day and will conclude with a sit-down lunch that will offer plenty of opportunities to meet, network and discuss the day’s sessions with fellow delegates. 


Book before 31 December to avail of the early bird rate.

Welcome Message


Dear member,


As the decade draws to a close, it is timely to reflect on the transformation in fortunes for Ireland over the last 10 years.


Since 2011, economic growth has averaged a spectacular 5% per annum – three times the rate in the EU. Today, there is a record 2.3 million people in employment and output per capita is amongst the top 10 regions in Europe.


The Irish business model has demonstrated its resilience, while a private sector that created 400,000 new jobs in this period deserves much kudos for playing such a seminal role in helping to turn around the economy.


On behalf of Ibec, I would like to wish you a Happy Christmas and best wishes for 2020.


Danny McCoy