Future of Europe - What's next?



• Ibec sets out Future of Europe priorities to Brussels leaders


• Huge opportunities if EU reinvigorates Single Market project


• We need pragmatic reform, not a radical change of direction



Ibec last week launched our priorities for the Future of Europe in Brussels. As Brexit will change how the EU develops for years to come, now is the time to influence the direction.

Ireland's economic fortunes demand an outward-looking and dynamic EU, one focused on ongoing pragmatic reform. But now is not the time for a radical change of direction.
We need more cooperation in areas where there is a clear collective benefit, including completing the single market, digitalisation and global trade. But in areas such as taxation and labour market policy, individual governments should have autonomy.

For full details, read ‘Ireland in the EU: A dynamic future’ at our dedicated website here.


The Ibec launch at the European Parliament was addressed by some of the EU's most influential figures – the Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier, the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, and three EU Commissioners.


Ibec CEO, Danny McCoy, set out the following four key priorities:

  1. Unleash the potential of the Single Market: By completing the digital single market, the capital markets union and banking union, the EU can create massive new opportunities, advance growth and raise living standards across Europe.
  2. Lead the world in trade and investment: The EU should continue to pursue ambitious, balanced trade deals. This should include a comprehensive future trading relationship with the UK, as well as deeper trading and investment partnerships with the US, Canada and Japan.
  3. Embrace competitive taxation policy: We need dynamic, competitive markets across the EU to ensure companies, economies and member states can harness innovation and attract investment. Member states must maintain the power to choose tax strategies that best meet their economic needs.
  4. Respect member state competency on labour market issues: By keeping labour and social market policy at a member state level, national governments and policy makers can best consider local labour market realities, demographics and citizen’s needs.”
Letter from America



#IbecUSA campaign meets US representatives on trade, tariffs and tax


• ‘Ireland and the US: A Win-Win’ publication launched in Washington


• Ibec opposes EU Commission’s newly proposed digital tax



Led by CEO Danny McCoy and President Edel Creely engaged in a comprehensive series of public meetings and private discussions with US administration officials and senior US business representatives in Washington DC during the week leading up to St Patrick’s Day.

Some highlights from the #IbecUSA campaign included representations to Congress, the permanent government, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and White House adviser Gail Slater, whose brief includes technology, telecommunications and cybersecurity.

Ibec CEO Danny McCoy attended the New York Stock Exchange ‘Ireland Day’, organised by Ireland Inc, in the company of many great Irish corporations who are scaling up in the USA. On business to business, our briefings in Washington included those with GlobalWin, Information Technology Industry (ITI), the US Council for International Business, National Association of Manufacturers and the US Chamber of Commerce all of which proved to be insightful and timely. Meetings also took place with policy think tanks, Brookings and the Heritage Foundation.

In Washington, Ibec wrapped up its programme with a stakeholder event, which attracted many new and old friends, for the launch of a new Ibec publication, Ireland and the US: A Win Win. Read the publication here. Danny McCoy finished the week by delivering a keynote address at the Irish US Council St Patricks Day lunch in New York.

During the week in the US four issues dominated our discussions:

  1. US business is both optimistic and confident and has normalised around day to day change at the White House.
  2. Protectionism is a key and consistent feature of the Trump Administration’s policy agenda and an issue on which he will be predictable in his zeal.
  3. Recognition that Ireland is more pivotal than ever on key global policy issues in the context of Brexit, but concerns of economic governance within Europe specifically on the issues of Data and Digital tax.
  4. Despite political tensions that pervade, business remains committed to finding solutions through multilateral structures such as the OECD and WTO.

The issue of digital taxation is set to run following proposals by the EU Commission to introduce a unilateral ‘interim’ tax. Ibec expressed concern at the measure, which is both poorly timed and ill-judged. The proposed measures risk undermining the OECD’s BEPS initiative and inflaming an already tense standoff with the US administration. Ibec supports the position of the Irish Government and many other governments in favouring the multilateral approach adopted by the OECD.

Ibec in images

"The bi-lateral relationship between the US and Ireland is strong and getting stronger. But we really need Ireland to step up when the Brexit process is completed. We need Ireland on this issue."


Ahead of our #IbecUSA campaign, we were delighted to be joined by Tom J. Donoghue, CEO of the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Our recent #IbecUSA campaign saw Ibec engage in a number of meetings  in Washington and New York with key US stakeholders, including US Congressman Erik PaulsenHere, he is presented with a copy of our #IbecUSA report, by Ibec CEO Danny McCoy and Ibec Commercial Director, Martin Wells. 

During #IbecUSA, digital taxation was a point of discussion between Ibec and US stakeholders. We were delighted to be able to engage with the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) in Washington and put forward the Irish business position on a number of key policy issues.


Pictured are: White House Adviser on Digital and Cyber Security, Gail Slater; CEO, ITI, Dean Garfield; Ibec President, Edel Creely; and Ibec CEO Danny McCoy.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the voice of all manufacturing in the US. Its members' confidence levels are at all-time highs, even surpassing the Reagan optimism.


Pictured are Director for International Economic Affairs Policy at NAM,Ken Monahan; Vice President of International Economic Affairs Policy at NAM, Linda Dempsey; Ibec CEO, Danny McCoy; and Ibec President. Edel Creely.

Ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange as part of #IbecUSA are: Ibec Deputy CEO/ COO, Liam O'Donoghue; Senior Director Origination and Market Development at Bank Of Ireland, Nikki Canavan; and Ibec Commercial Director, Martin Wells.

Ibec's recent Future of Europe publication outlines the positive vision of Irish business across a range of key policy areas, including taxation, trade and investment.


Pictured at the launch are: Ibec CEO Danny McCoy; European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen; EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan; President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani; Sean Kelly MEP; and European Commissioner for the Security Union, Julian King.


"Ní neart go cur le chéile."


European Chief Negotiator for the UK exiting the EU, Michel Barnier, addresses delegates at the launch of Ibec's Future of Europe publication, where he reiterated the EU's solidarity with Ireland in the face of Brexit challenges. 

"Ireland is a lesson on how to benefit from globalisation while adapting to local conditions."


We were joined in Ibec recently by OECD General Secretary, Ángel Gurria, who spoke of the substance behind the Irish business model.


Pictured are: Ibec CEO, Danny McCoy; MD, Microsoft Ireland, Cathriona Hallahan; OECD Secretary General, Ángel Gurria; ; Managing Partner, KPMG, Shaun Murphy; and CEO, Cpl Resources, Anne Heraty.

An Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade with special responsibility for Brexit, Simon Coveney, recently joined us in our Cork offices to discuss development ambitions for the region under Project Ireland 2040. He is pictured here with Ibec Cork Regional President, James Winters.

The Small Firms Association has launched its practical GDPR guide for business, which you can check out here. The guide outlines the opportunities as well as challenges and takes the fear element out of this new legislation for employers.


Pictured at the launch of 'Mind your business: Prepare for GDPR' are SFA Executive, Helen Quinn, and SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens.

"Since the outcome of the referendum, agri-food has seen exports to the UK drop in 2016 by €570 million at the cost of 5,700 jobs."


Prepared Consumer Foods (PCF) recently launched its latest Brexit report, outlining the priorities of prepared consumer food companies in the next phase of negotiations.


Pictured at the launch of the report are: CEO Largo Foods and Chairman PCF Council, Maurice HickeyMinister of State for European Affairs, Helen McEntee, TD; and Director of PCF, Kevin McPartlan.

Minister for Finance & Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe joined Ibec CEO Danny McCoy in the Ibec podcast to discuss a new chapter in Ireland’s economic story.


Listen in to it here.


“A genetic, emotional, economic relationship exists between Ireland & Canada ... Brexit & CETA will open the door for continued engagement between the two countries."


The Canada - UK interparliamentary association and the Canada -Europe parliamentary association joined us in Ibec in early March to discuss the opportunities that exist for Irish and Canadian business.

"Curiosity driven research has led to many innovations such as the development of computers. It is important to make room for imagination in our universities."


Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Louise Richardson, spoke in Ibec of the important role that research has to play in the development of future workplaces.

We were delighted to be joined in Ibec by President of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Paul Drechsler.


Both groups agree that the economic interests of both the EU and the UK would be best served by the UK remaining in a customs union with the EU after.

And finally ... Ibec staff celebrating International Womens' Day 2018.

Welcome Message

Dear member,


The Irish economy continues to perform very strongly, and anecdotal evidence from our membership across the country indicates that business has had a busy first three months of 2018.


At Ibec, the first quarter of the year has been an intense but highly productive period. Our continued efforts on focused campaigns are yielding strong results, in particular our ‘Ireland: A Model of Substance’ which is detailed here in our latest Agenda bulletin.

We also launched our Future of Europe in Brussels last week, and will bring you new initiatives over the coming year on Quality of Life and the Future of Work.


Danny McCoy,



A model pupil - Ireland's story of substance


• OECD Secretary General Ángel Gurria visits Ibec


• Ibec Lecture delivered by Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, TD


• Model of substance agenda is advanced



Ireland and Ibec have been early adopters of the OECD’s multilateral plan to reconfigure global taxation through Base Erosion Profit Shifting (BEPS).

In March 2018, OECD Secretary General, Ángel Gurria, visited Ibec and met with members where he re-emphasised that significant global changes require corporate taxation to be aligned with substance in the host country.

Adoption of BEPS is transforming the Irish business model. Substance is determined by both tangible and intangible assets held by corporations. Over many decades, Ireland has built up substance and now is home to world class company clusters forming sectoral hubs that have global footprints across the full lifecycle of business activities.

The process has resulted in Ireland attracting further business substance over the last half decade. The scale of this movement has been dramatic, with the value of corporate balance sheets in Ireland now in excess of €1 trillion and activity leading to a doubling in corporate tax revenue.



"Resource economies that find natural assets like oil have a huge opportunity to increase its society's productive capacity"


By their nature these are intangible assets, but they are also the modern-day equivalent of a natural resource find. Resource economies that find natural assets like oil have a huge opportunity to increase its society’s productive capacity through investment in education and infrastructure that build capacity and opportunity for future generations.

A short-term issue is that it boosts aggregate demand in the economy which puts pressure on existing national infrastructure and on labour requirements. The latter pressure pushes up costs, reduces productivity from rationing so that competitiveness becomes eroded.


As Secretary General Gurria pointed out, intangible assets might be even better than tangible ones, which are ultimately exhaustible, whereas intangibles from intellectual capital may be renewable, scalable and non-exhaustive.

In February, the Minister of Finance Paschal Donohoe delivered the Ibec Lecture in which he spoke about how through this ‘new, new economy’, Ireland could be transformed by these new resources but only if we invest wisely as set out in the Project 2040 National Development Plan.




To hear Ibec CEO Danny McCoy in conversation with Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe click here.



To watch the Ibec Lecture delivered by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe click here.

Planning for Ireland 2040


• Ibec welcomes National Planning Framework launch


• €116 billion development plan hits Ibec’s benchmark


• Further lobbying to ensure effective delivery



The recently published National Planning Framework (NPF) and National Development Plan (NDP) will have significant implications for the business community.


The NPF sets out a strategic framework for spatial planning across the island of Ireland for the next 25 years. Ibec has engaged extensively with the consultation process for the NPF and we were particularly positive to see the following key elements in the final plan:


• Ambition to plan for a growing population of at least 1 million extra people by 2040.

• Identification of key urban growth centres in each region of the country – a feature which was absent in the draft version of the plan.

• Commitment to ensure more effective regional development and a better spatial distribution of economic activity and population.


We believe that lessons have been learnt from previous unsuccessful efforts at spatial planning and that the NPF can effectively shape development of the country over the coming decades. Unlike previous iterations, the NPF will have a legislative basis and a comprehensive governance and implementation structure which will include more detailed regional plans and coordination at a local level.

Another unique aspect of the NPF is that it has been published in conjunction with a 10-year capital investment plan. The ambitious €116 billion new NDP will see the level of investment in infrastructure increase to over 4% of economic output annually over the coming years. 


This is a benchmark which Ibec had called for and we strongly support the Government’s commitment to increased capital spending. Major new infrastructure projects such as improved road access to the North-West; a Cork-Limerick motorway and the Metro in Dublin will improve connectivity, help address congestion challenges and enhance quality of life. We will continue to lobby to ensure its effective and timely delivery.

GDPR clock is ticking

The countdown to the GDPR compliance deadline of 25 May 2018 continues. In response, the Small Firms Association has launched its guide ‘Mind your business: Prepare for GDPR’, which you can download here.


For further information, please contact Sven Spollen-Behrens, SFA Director, at or Linda Barry, SFA Assistant Director at



Brexit latest


Brexit transition deal across the line: Last Friday’s European Council signed off on a Brexit transition deal. This will give businesses at least 11 more quarters of full EU-UK alignment and it reduces the risk of a ‘no deal’ outcome. Deeply worrying EU-UK differences remain, but we've more time to sort them out.

Principle of border legal backstop agreed: The European Council also provided additional clarity that both sides are fully committed to a legal backstop that would avoid a hard border. This now needs to be put into full legal form. This is important for the many businesses operating on an all-island basis. Ensuring that similar customs and regulatory alignment continues East-West between Ireland and Britain, as well as North-South, is now our priority.


Last week we got clarity on a Brexit transition deal. Talks will begin on the future EU-UK relationship, but big worries remain. For a full update on all the key issues check out the March edition of Ibec’s Brexit Tracker here



National Workplace Wellbeing Day

It’s time to get moving! Ireland’s fourth National Workplace Wellbeing Day takes place on Friday, 13th April 2018. Last year, over 500 companies of all sizes from across the public and private sectors participated in the annual event, which aims to improve employee wellbeing through promoting better exercise and nutrition in the workplace.
Ibec is calling all employers to sign up and participate on the day and take this opportunity to get outdoors and get moving alongside their employees.

Visit our website to sign-up.



Big ambitions

The BioPharma Ambition Conference 2018 was a highly successful event staged in Dublin Castle in February, hosted jointly by BioPharmaChem Ireland (part of Ibec), the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA), and the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT).
Ireland’s biopharmachem sector had a record €67.8 billion in exports in 2017, accounting for 55% of overall Irish exports of goods (excluding services). The conference coincided with an announcement by MSD of new biotech plant in Dublin that will employ 350 people. Investments in excess of €10 billion have been made by the industry in Ireland since 2000.



Microsoft in the US Supreme Court

In January, Ibec filed a brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in relation to the court’s consideration of a case relating to US administration attempts to access emails held on Microsoft servers in Ireland.
Ibec filed an Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) along with the Federation of German Industries (BDI), the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), the Polish Confederation Lewiatan, and the French Business Federation (MEDEF) in the case United States of America v Microsoft Corporation.

A decision on the case is expected in the summer.


It’s time to get moving!

Ireland’s fourth National Workplace Wellbeing Day takes place on Friday, 13th April 2018.


Last year, over 500 companies of all sizes from across the public and private sectors participated in the annual event, which aims to improve employee wellbeing through promoting better exercise and nutrition in the workplace. Thousands of employers and employees also completed the “Lunchtime Mile”, a one-mile cycle, jog, run, or walk in the vicinity of the business – a simple free activity that anyone can arrange.


Ibec is calling all employers to sign up and participate on the day and take this opportunity to get outdoors and get moving alongside their employees. As a nation, we all know that we need to get healthier and there is no better place to start than in the workplace.


Visit our dedicated website here to sign-up. Keep an eye on the website for more information, as well as hints and tips on what your company can do on the day.

Employment Law Conference 2018

Ireland’s economy is the fastest growing in the eurozone for the fourth year in a row. It is now critical that we do not jeopardise the second chance we have been given to be the best small country in the world in which to do business.


In the last year alone, the employment relationship has been the subject of more than ten proposals for new legislation (when Private Members Bills are included) purporting to further amend existing employment laws.


Some of this legislation is necessary and proportionate and the business community recognises the need for a balanced approach to employment regulation.


However, there is an increased appetite for pitting employers and employees against each other despite the negative impact this is may have for workplace relations.



At this year’s Ibec Employment Law Conference, taking place on 9th May 2018, we will examine what is driving these new legislative proposals and what impact they are likely to have on Irish business in the coming year.



To book you place, click here

The KeepWell Summit

An event targeted at HR directors, business leaders and individuals tasked with the management of employee health and wellbeing, exploring the strategies smart organisations are employing to contribute to the wellness of their employees.



This full day event, taking place on 21st June 2018, is designed to help organisations embed a culture of health and wellbeing into their corporate culture in a way that enhances the mental, social and physical wellbeing and productivity of all staff. We will look at the companies that are excelling at corporate wellness and how they promote wellbeing through culture, the built environment and technology. Industry experts will share creative ways to promote wellbeing with innovative worksite wellness programmes.



The format will include a heart healthy networking breakfast and lunch, presentations by experts, case studies and great networking with others in the field. Delegates will leave the event with a toolkit of proven strategies to increase their return on investment in the area of employee health and wellbeing.



For more information, go to our dedicated website here.