We must outperform UK on investment, says IBEC boss
Ireland must match and outperform the UK in its efforts to attract investment ahead of Britain's planned referendum in 2017 to decide its EU membership, the head of business group IBEC has said.
Speaking in Dublin yesterday, IBEC chief executive Danny McCoy said that Irish business wants a strong European Union with the UK as a member.
"But if EU relations are to be recast, now is the time to make sure that Ireland doesn't lose out," he said.
"The best each way bet on an in or out vote is by advocating and supporting necessary EU reform, while at the same time competing successfully to ensure that we don't fall behind the UK when it comes to attracting investment and selling into UK, European and international markets," Mr McCoy added.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to hold a referendum in 2017 to allow people to decide whether or not the UK will continue to be an EU member. The UK is Ireland's largest recipient of service exports and around a third of goods imported by Ireland are from the UK.
Earlier this month, Mr Cameron told the Confederation of British Industry annual conference in London, that he could swing a 'yes' vote to remaining within the EU. He denied he was playing politics by promising to hold the referendum.
"We haven't made the argument enough about why Europe matters and frankly there are lots of things in the EU that badly need reform," Mr Cameron told the CBI.
"It is too costly, it is not flexible enough, it doesn't help our competitiveness enough. It needs to change."
Mr McCoy said yesterday that the EU needed to "renew its priorities" in light of the continuing challenge from Asian economies.
"It must be outward-looking, signing more trade deals and breaking down trade barriers," he said. "The EU has already signed free trade deals with nearly 50 partners, giving Irish firms access to €18 trillion worth of markets around the globe."
But he said there had to be "greater urgency" in such moves by the EU.
"The UK debate and its drive for investment must be a wake-up call for Ireland, for the government and for business alike," he added.