Public Policy Bulletin, 3 July 2020

Jul 03, 2020


European Commission gives State aid boost to SMEs adversely impacted by COVID-19 

The European Commission has made its third amendment to the State aid Temporary Framework in order to further support the micro, small and start-up companies adversely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. This amendment extends the Temporary Framework to enable Member States to provide public support to all micro and small companies, even if they were already in financial difficulty on 31 December 2019.

The main purpose of the Temporary Framework is to provide targeted support to otherwise viable companies that have entered into financial difficulty as a result of the pandemic. The framework does this by:

  • Providing support to support micro and small companies including start-ups
  • Creating incentives for private investors to participate in coronavirus-related recapitalisation aid measures
  • Ensuring the protection of the Single Market and ensuring a level playing field

Chartered Accountants Ireland representation in the new Government

Nearly 135 days after General Election 2020, Ireland finally has a new Government. A coalition government formed cross a historic political background of four months of lengthy negotiations, COVID-19, and Brexit, it is also being referred to as Ireland’s “greenest-government-ever”.  However, the new Government now has at its hands the complex task of steering Ireland through economic turbulence and recovery. With a new Cabinet of ministers agreed upon on Saturday, Fianna Fáil party leader, Micheál Martin, will be heading it as Ireland’s new Taoiseach. 
With Michael McGrath T.D. appointed as the new Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and Peter Burke appointed as Minister for State at the Department of Housing,  Chartered Accountants Ireland currently has four members elected to the 33rd Dáil. Kieran O’Donnell T.D. (FG), and Sean Fleming T.D. (FF) are current members of Chartered Accountants Ireland elected to the Dáil. You can also read Chartered Accountants Ireland’s member profile feature on Michael McGrath, as highlighted in the Annual Report 2019. 

FRC asks auditors, accountants and actuaries to address the climate challenge

Hannah Armitage of the FRC's Financial Reporting Lab on July 1 describe the key role the FRC plays in ensuring market and financial system participants take into account climate-related issues, and that companies must provide information to investors and other stakeholders about their plans for the future and the challenges and opportunities they face in a future low carbon economy.

Marking the beginning of London Climate Action Week (Digital), Armitage describes climate change as being high on the FRC’s agenda as the regulator of the accounting, auditing and actuarial sectors, and announced that the FRC is carrying out a thematic review to understand what boards, companies, auditors and professional bodies are doing to consider and report on the climate-related issues they face within their own areas of responsibility. 

The Joint Forum on Actuarial Regulation, of which the FRC is the Chair, also recently identified climate change as a main risk in its ‘Risk Perspective’. 

Although Armitage acknowledged that reporting on the effects of climate is not easy, involving as it does, making assessments of an uncertain future and its impact on business, she stated that working out how we benchmark against this uncertain future is part of the ongoing work currently happening on climate change at the moment, and cited as examples: the FCA’s consultation on ‘comply or explain’ reporting on TCFD (Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures), work on the Pensions Bill regarding climate change, the IASB briefing note on the impact of climate change on financial reporting, and the efforts and insights shared by those taking part in the London Climate Action Week events.

ESRI states that considerable effort is required for Ireland to reach EU emission goals

New research from the ESRI finds that emissions reductions due to COVID-19 business interruptions will be short-lived and will not help Ireland reach its emissions targets.

The research from the ESRI analysed how the COVID-19 crisis will impact upon the Irish economy and environment. It finds that: 

  • Irish GDP is expected to decrease by around 13 per cent in 2020
  • Economy-wide CO2 emissions are expected to decrease by 9.5 per cent
  • Low current energy prices will increase energy-demand and emissions will rise again in 2021
  • Ireland risks missing its 2020 and 2030 emissions targets.

Read all our updates on our Public Policy web centre.