On 1 June 2021, Taoiseach, Micheál Martin T.D., Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar T.D., and Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications and Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan T.D, launched the Economic Recovery Plan 2021.
The plan sets out a new phase of supports for the next stage of the economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic. The overall ambition of the plan is to exceed the pre-crisis employment levels by having 2.5 million people in work by 2024.
It is anticipated that the initial funding of €915 million through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, under the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility, plus the forthcoming revised National Development Plan, will create a green and digital job revolution. The EU’s Brexit Adjustment Reserve will also be used to support the recovery by helping to counter the adverse effects of Brexit in the sectors and Member States most impacted. Ireland’s proposed allocation of the Brexit Adjustment Reserve is approximately €1 billion and represents just over 20% of the overall fund.
The Economic Recovery Plan consists of four Pillars:
1. Ensuring Sustainable Public Finances
2. Helping People Back into Work
3. Re-building Sustainable Enterprises
4. A Balanced and Inclusive Recovery
The July Jobs Stimulus 2020 launched a suite of key economic outputs intended to help the Irish economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The April 2021 Stability Programme Update (SPU) set out the medium-term technical macroeconomic and fiscal forecasts. The Economic Recovery Plan builds on these measures. Upcoming key economic outputs include the Summer Economic Statement, a new Climate Action Plan and revised National Development Plan.
Pillar 1: Ensuring Sustainable Public Finances refers to the objective of returning to sound public finances as the foundation of the recovery. Getting people back to quality, productive employment will help restore public finances, and in turn enable sustainable access to better and more accessible public services. The forthcoming Summer Economic Statement will include further details on the deficit reduction framework and a medium-term fiscal target.
Agreement at the OECD on addressing global tax challenges, in particular that of digitalisation, and the establishment of a Commission on Taxation and Welfare will bring stability to the international and domestic tax framework.
Pillar 2: Helping People Back into Work will be achieved through a combination of extending existing supports, such as, the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (COVID-PUP), increased activation capacity through Pathways to Work 2021-2025, and accelerated training and skills opportunities.
The new Pathways to Work 2021-2025 represents Ireland’s national employment services strategy and overall framework for activation and employment support. It supports those who are unemployed because of the pandemic, or pre-pandemic, and those whose former jobs are no longer available to them, to return to work through intense activation, and upskilling and reskilling through education and training initiatives.
Pillar 3: Re-building Sustainable Enterprises through targeted supports and polices to make enterprises more resilient and productive. In addition to the extension of the existing supports, such as the EWSS and COVID-PUP, this package includes a particular focus on sectors such as tourism, events, arts, and aviation, where the impact of the pandemic is likely to continue, given the easing of restrictions around mass gatherings and international travel will lag.
As part of ongoing support for the tourism sector, the lower tourism VAT rate of 9% will be extended until 1 September 2022, and Fáilte Ireland will continue its support initiatives through its Business Continuity Scheme or equivalent schemes.
Pillar 4: A Balanced and Inclusive Recovery through strategic investment in infrastructure and reforms to enhance the long-term capacity for growth, balanced regional development and improved living standards.
A more inclusive labour market will be built with a greater focus on participation and on reducing barriers. The Government’s priorities include Statutory Sick Pay, the Living Wage, a basic income guarantee pilot scheme for artists, the Roadmap for Social Inclusion, gender equality initiatives, an approach to piloting universal basic income, and appropriate regulation for the platform economy.
Some of the extended existing supports are outlined below:
The National Recovery and Resilience Plan outlines how Ireland intends to utilise an initial allocation of grants from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility which has been developed alongside the Government’s Economic Recovery Plan.
Ireland will receive approximately €915 million in grants from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility. These grants will be used to support investments from mid-2021 to mid-2026. A further set of grants will be allocated to each Member State in 2023, considering economic developments between now and then.
To avail of the grants, each Member State must prepare a National Recovery and Resilience Plan. Ireland submitted its draft Plan to the European Commission on 28 May 2021. The draft Plan will undergo a formal assessment by the European Commission – the process is expected to take two months, before being submitted to the Council of the European Union for approval.
The overall objective of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan is to contribute to a sustainable, equitable, green, and digital recovery effort, in a manner that complements and supports the Government’s broader recovery efforts.
Ireland’s Plan reflects the requirements of the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility for a minimum of 37% of expenditure to be on climate; 20% on digital investments and reforms and the need to address investment and reform challenges identified in relevant Country Specific Recommendations made to Ireland by the EU in recent years.
Ireland’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan proposes 16 investments and 9 reform commitments, arranged under three distinct priorities:
June 2021 – Economic Recovery Plan webpage
June 2021 – Economic Recovery Plan 2021
June 2021 – Economic Recovery Plan – Accompanying Background Paper: Accelerating Trends and Shift
June 2021 – National Recovery and Resilience Plan 2021
Department of the Taoiseach
June 2021 – Overview of Economic Recovery Plan 2021
June 2021 – Pillar 1: Ensuring Sustainable Public Finances
June 2021 – Pillar 2: Helping People Back into Work
June 2021 – Pillar 3: Re-building Sustainable Enterprises
June 2021 – Pillar 4: A Balanced and Inclusive Recovery
June 2021 – The National Recovery and Resilience Plan
Department of Finance
June 2021 – Press release: Minister Donohoe announces further economic supports for businesses as they re-open
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
June 2021 – Ireland’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan 2021
June 2021 – Press release: Ireland presents €1 billion National Recovery and Resilience Plan to Europe
Department of Social Protection
June 2021 – Press release: National Economic Recovery Plan – Social Protection Supports and Services