Public Policy Bulletin, 27 November 2020

Nov 27, 2020

In this week’s Public Policy news, read about the launch of the Ireland for Finance 2020 Action plan; the stark warnings from the Environmental Protection Agency on Ireland’s progress towards its climate targets; and the forecast for the biggest decline in the UK economy in 300 years. 

Launch of ‘Ireland for Finance 2020’ Action Plan

The Ireland for Finance 2020 Action Plan was launched this week, the first to be published since the formation of the new Government in June of this year. The new Programme for Government, committed to complete the ‘Ireland for Finance Strategy’ for the development of Ireland’s international financial services sector to 2025.

The plan has been updated since its initial development in December 2019 to take account of the passage of time and the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19 and the continued requirement for Brexit-readiness. The vision of the plan is to ensure that Ireland continues to be a top-tier location of choice for financial services companies, to enhance our competitiveness, and for Ireland to  be at the forefront of positive industry developments in products, services and operational models.

Launching the plan, Minister of State with responsibility for Financial Services, Credit Unions and Insurance, Sean Fleming TD said that the progress made on important measures for International Financial Services during the year is reflected in “the resilience the sector has shown in the face of the pandemic,” and that attention must now be focused on the future and how the potential of the industry can be maximised as the economic recovers.

Stark warnings from the Environmental Protection Agency

The publication this week of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Ireland's Environment 2020 - An Assessment provides an update on the environmental challenges that Ireland faces both nationally and globally. The report, which publishes every four years, found that Ireland is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels and is falling seriously behind in protection of natural habitats. It also found that raw sewage is being dumped into water from 35 towns and villages, leaving only 20 of Ireland’s more than 3,000 rivers, streams and tributaries unpolluted.

The report noted that Ireland cut only  4.5 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. This signals a significant challenge to the Government as it seeks to make Ireland carbon neutral by 2050, which it plans to do by, among other measures, cutting overall greenhouse gas emissions by 7 per cent annually for the next decade. The report called for the implementation of solutions across all sectors of society through an overarching environmental policy position, and predicted that a decade of action is needed to put things right.

UK economy forecasted for biggest decline in 300 years

Describing the impact of COVID-19 as an “economic emergency” UK chancellor Rishi Sunak reportedly warned that the pandemic will damage both growth and jobs, with official forecasts  predicting the biggest economic decline in 300 years.

The outlook is for a contraction of the UK economy by 11.3 percent this year, with no return to pre-crisis levels until the end of 2022. It also expects a rise in Government borrowing to reach levels that are record for peacetime, to deal with the economic impact.

According to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the UK government’s independent forecaster, the number of unemployed people will rise to 2.6 million by mid-2021, with the unemployment rate reaching 7.5 percent, its highest level since the 2009 financial crisis.

Read all our updates on our Public Policy web centre.