Brief for Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment

Business priorities and solutions



1. 
Accelerate the EU and Ireland’s development as leading globally competitive digital economies

Why?

Completing an effective EU Digital Single Market (DSM) framework and full adoption of digital technologies could be leveraged to add €27 billion to our GDP and have a positive net effect of up to 140,000 jobs by 2020.


How? The Minister should:

  • accelerate the development of a DSM that secures trust through smart regulation and ensures the free flow of data
  • attract mobile digital talent and investment
  • promote the development of skills
  • encourages digital entrepreneurship
  • continue investment in digital infrastructure and innovation, by continuing to work with other line-departments and like-minded member states.

 

2. Enable continued investment in high quality and secure digital infrastructure that enhances access and connectivity.


Why?

A robust infrastructure is the backbone of our growing digital economy. Policy and regulatory decisions at national EU level can unlock this investment.

How? The Minister should:

  • ensure timely implementation of the National Broadband Plan.
  • facilitate commercial rollout of high speed broadband and improved mobile coverage by removing costs and delays caused by onerous administrative and planning processes
  • implement the actions to improve telecoms service identified by the Government Taskforce on Mobile and Broadband
  • implement the Network Information Security (NIS) Directive in accordance with better regulation principles and continue to invest in Ireland’s cyber-security framework to protect our growing digital economy
  • promote a positive investment environment at national and EU level in the context of the proposed European Electronic Communications Code and DSM
  • promote a consistent single market approach to spectrum policy and management
  • create a supportive regulatory environment for the rollout of 5G, including fibre backhaul
  • develop further measures to stimulate demand for high speed broadband by encouraging ecommerce adoption by SMEs and additional online public services.



3. 
Enable digital entrepreneurship.


Why?

Digital adoption can enable Irish SMEs to enter new markets, increase sales and create jobs. Digital entrepreneurship can be enabled by the right mix of policy, skills and infrastructure. However digital entrepreneurs, particularly SMEs sometimes require support at different stages of their development. SMEs represent 52.1% of Ireland’s GDP and employ 65% of the private sector workforce.

How? The Minister should:

  • continue and expand the Trading Online Voucher scheme, both in funding and scope, which will help with both ecommerce and cyber security.



4. Ensure that vital clean energy infrastructure gets delivered on time.


Why?

The 2015 Energy White Paper sets out a long-term vision to transform Ireland into a prosperous, resilient low carbon economy. The country has challenging targets under EU legislation over the period to 2030 that simply won't be reached through business as usual. We need, in any case, to ensure that Brexit doesn't disrupt energy provision on the island.

How? The Minister should:

  • endeavour to complete the North-South Interconnector by 2020
  • promote electrification of heating and urban transport, as well as CNG / LPG for commercial vehicles
  • ensure that investor certainty is provided for in the redesign of the Single Energy Market
  • ensure strength in the indigenous production of renewable energy sources through investment incentives
  • streamline the planning consent regime and avoid imposing unnecessary planning restrictions, through engagement with the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government
  • encourage greater energy efficiency in the built sector through well-targeted retrofit.



5. Ensure that Irish energy remains internationally cost-competitive.


Why?

Ireland’s future economic prosperity will undoubtedly continue to be heavily dependent on attracting FDI. The relative cost of business services, including energy, is a key factor in choice of investment location.

How? The Minister should:

  • support the low carbon transition in such a way that does not drive up the cost of electricity through a spiralling PSO Levy
  • secure tariff-free energy trade with the UK after Brexit
  • base any new investment in interconnection on a robust cost-benefit analysis, regardless of the outcome of Brexit negotiations
  • secure at EU level maximum flexibility in meeting our 2030 targets
  • include the use of international credits where it makes sense to do so, particularly for the expected 2020 shortfall
  • base any new Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariffs (REFITs) or Renewable Heat Incentive on carefully-designed competitive auctions, achieving maximum cost-effectiveness while allowing for innovation
  • increase support for sustainable energy through Exchequer funding, rather than through PSO supplier obligations.



6. Support Irish industry’s efforts towards a more resource-efficient economy.


Why?

The EU’s proposed Circular Economy package aims to improve economic resilience while also delivering environmental benefits. Businesses will need to adapt products and operations in order to have a lesser impact on the environment. This includes extending the useful life of products; facilitating safe and inexpensive re-use/ recycling through careful design and selection of materials; and a range of policy supports will be needed to address the particular challenges faced by Irish business during this transition.

How? The Minister should:

  • take a cautious approach to ensure optimal balance is achieved between use of chemicals in packaging to extend shelf life and prevent food waste, through insightful interpretation of forthcoming EU waste directives
  • provide adequate funding and support to help start-ups, designers and businesses collaborate as they redesign products and operations to achieve a more circular economy 
  • streamline classification of items as ‘end of waste’ and as a ‘by-product’ to increase reuse  
  • support new initiatives to enhance the EPA’s National Waste Prevention Programme.

 

 

6. Stabilise the funding of public service broadcasting

Why? 

Public service broadcasting plays an essential and unique role in Irish society, which could not function fully without secure funding.

How? The Minister should:

  • adopt effective measures to combat television licence fee evasion, currently costing around €40m per annum in lost revenue. This will support both public service broadcasting and the large number of independent production companies which work closely with it. 


About Ibec

Ibec is Ireland's largest and most influential business representative. We proudly speak on behalf of 7,500 Irish businesses; home grown, multinational, big and small, spanning every sector of the economy and employing 70% of the private sector workforce in Ireland. Together with our 40+ trade associations, we lobby government and policy makers nationally and internationally to maintain a positive climate for business and drive economic growth. Our policy is shaped by our members through the work of our board, national council, policy committees and trade associations.  We regularly produce market leading industry and business events, positions on issues impacting business, economic research, forecasts and analysis. We also provide a wide range of professional services and management training to members on all aspects of human resource management, occupational health and safety, employee relations and employment law.  With 200 staff in 6 offices around Ireland as well as an office in Brussels and connections in the U.K. and Washington, Ibec communicates the Irish business voice to key stakeholders at home and abroad.

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