Tánaiste sets out Ireland’s ambition for a green and digital economy

  • Tánaiste, Ministers Calleary and English launch White Paper on Enterprise

  • Government sets out enterprise policy direction to 2030

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD and Ministers of State Dara Calleary TD and Damien English TD, have launched the White Paper on Enterprise which was approved by government today. 

Following a review of enterprise policy launched earlier this year, which involved public consultation and engagement of an international advisory panel of experts, the white paper sets out the government’s enterprise priorities in the period to 2030. 

The result of this consultation is a plan of adaption rather than a major departure from the proven and consistent approach we have pursued to date, an evolution rather than revolution in Ireland’s enterprise policy.  

The white paper sets out an ambitious vision for Ireland’s enterprise policy, to protect Ireland’s strong economic position, and respond to challenges and opportunities that have emerged as a result of the pandemic, wider economic and geo-political developments, digitalisation and an increased urgency to decarbonise industry. It provides for a sustainable, innovative and high-productivity economy, with rewarding jobs and livelihoods in the period ahead. 

Speaking at the launch the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar said: 

Our economy is in good health and we have a strong foundation from which to build future progress. A new industrial revolution is underway and that revolution is going to be digital and green. We must make sure that we evolve to benefit from it. We must ensure that our future success is founded on sustainability, innovation and productivity. This includes taking action to ensure we stay competitive and have the right environment for new firms to emerge and existing businesses to succeed. 

“Decarbonisation requires all business to take action and invest in change. Government will be there to help businesses reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and improve their energy efficiency in the coming years through a range of initiatives, including knowledge transfer, grants and loans. 

“While weaning ourselves off coal, oil and gas will not be easy, it also presents incredible opportunities for Ireland, specifically in the area of renewable energy production.In the years ahead, Ireland can become an energy exporter, with the benefits that accompany that– greater energy security and price stability, employment and regional development. 

“Notwithstanding the recent retrenchment in the tech sector, the future is digital. There is going to be more data, more robotics, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality and autonomous transport. There will be a huge expansion of the tech sector in the medium term and we will make sure that Ireland is at the forefront of that. 

“We must never take our prosperity for granted. If lost, it will take a long time to regain. Ireland’s enterprise policy, as set out in this white paper, will build on the strong foundations already in place and ensure businesses in Ireland are well positioned to seize opportunities to grow and succeed.”  

Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Dara Calleary highlighted the continuing strength and importance of Foreign Direct Investment to the economy: 

“Ireland’s established track record as a great place to do business has provided the confidence business needs to invest and to create employment. Foreign Direct Investment will remain central to our economic model. The white paper articulates how we will retain and evolve our value proposition. This will include enhancing our green enterprise credentials, further establishing Ireland as a sustainable, and competitive location for multinationals. 

“Ireland is a hub for the digital sector, with a strong ecosystem of multinational and indigenous technology companies. A large proportion of our SMEs however are not keeping pace with the digital transition. Delivering impactful programmes that accelerate digitalisation across Irish businesses will be critical to boost productivity and resilience in the period to 2030.” 

Also speaking at the launch, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English said: 

“The local business community in Ireland are playing an increasingly important role in creating jobs, growing the economy, and maintaining full employment in all regions across the country. The government is committed to assist these businesses to thrive by enhancing management capabilities, providing access to competitive finance and helping them to improve productivity.

 “The white paper provides the blueprint for how we will deliver on this commitment in the years ahead. We are setting out how we will fuel entrepreneurship, equip locally trading businesses with the know-how to fulfil their potential, and help companies to scale and succeed from Ireland.”

The vision of the white paper is to enable Irish-based enterprise to succeed through competitive advantage founded on sustainability, innovation and productivity, delivering rewarding jobs and livelihoods. 

To achieve this vision, government will focus on seven priority enterprise policy objectives: 

  1. Integrating decarbonisation and net zero commitments. Our targets: 35% emissions reduction from Industry by 2030; and 45% emissions reduction from Commercial Built Environment by 2030. 
  2. Placing digital transformation at the heart of enterprise policy. Our target: 90% of SMEs at basic digital intensity by 2030. 
  3. Strengthening the Irish-owned exporting sector. Our targets: 2.5% average annual growth in Irish-owned enterprise productivity by 2024; a 50% increase in the number of large Irish exporting companies by 2030; 2,000 additional Irish-owned exporters by 2030; and over two-thirds of Enterprise Ireland assisted new jobs between 2022 and 2024 will be created outside of Dublin. 
  4. Enabling locally trading sectors to thrive. Our target: a 1% average annual increase in multifactor productivity growth in domestic sectors of the economy by 2025. 
  5. Advancing Ireland’s FDI and trade value proposition. Our targets: 20% increase in IDA client expenditure in Ireland by 2024; and at least half of all FDI investments between 2021 and 2024 to be located outside of Dublin. 
  6. Stepping up enterprise innovation. Our targets: Gross Expenditure on R&D to 2.5% of Gross National Income by 2030; and the Number of High-Potential Start-Ups increased by 20% by 2024. 
  7. Building on strengths and opportunities. Our targets: Five national cluster organisations funded under a new National Clustering Programme by 2025; and unemployment not to exceed one percentage point of national unemployment rate in any region. 

Implementation of the white paper will be regularly reported on to government through a monitoring and tracking of progress against identified targets.