Policy, Advocacy and Trade

Over the past year, the Chamber has worked in tandem with the Irish and UK Governments, as well as with representatives from the EU Council, Commission and Parliament to ensure the voice of British and Irish Businesses were being heard by policy makers. We also made a concerted effort to make sure our members could directly communicate their views with some of the leading players in these negotiations. Speakers at our “In Conversation Series” have included:

  • Timothy Hayes, Political Officer, European Commission
  • Hilary Benn MP, Chair, Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union
  • Helen McEntee TD, Minister for European Affairs
  • The British Ambassador to Ireland, Robin Barnett CMG, Chris Barton CMG, Director, UK-EU Goods Negotiations, Task Force Europe and Brendan Threlfall, Director, Transition Taskforce
  • Brandon Lewis CBE MP, Secretary for State for Northern Ireland
  • David McAllister MEP, the Chair of the European Parliament’s UK Coordination Group
  • Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Finance
  • Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence.

The Chamber’s standing with like-minded organisations in the UK continues to grow as we successfully convened the CEOs of the UK’s five biggest businesses representative bodies to discuss how we can proactively work together to help advance the talks and limit the adverse consequences of Brexit for everybody impacted. The Chamber continues to relay members’ concerns on Brexit to Minister Coveney’s ‘Brexit Stakeholder Forum’ and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis’s ‘Business Engagement Forum’ – the Chamber is the only organisation to be representing its members in both forums. The Chamber also sits on the Customs Consultative Committee and has recently been asked to join the ‘SME and State Bodies Group’, chaired jointly by the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Business. This group was formed to coordinate the Government’s ongoing response to COVID-19 for SMEs.

In 2020, the Chamber also increased its policy output on last year, as it continued to establish itself as the authoritative voice on Brexit affairs and UK–Irish Trade. In addition, the Chamber grew in prominence in domestic Irish policy matters. Our Policy committees and working groups are the lifeblood of the Chamber. They provide a forum for open debate and discussion on the issues facing businesses in the British-Irish space as well as a platform for developing policy positions on behalf of the Chamber itself. The Committees are member-led and derive their strength from the commitment and direct involvement of their members. We would like to thank our members, especially our Committee Chairs, who contributed to these initiatives by participating in our policy committees, responding to our surveys, and contacting us directly.

Policy Outputs 2020:

  • In February, the Chamber published its Higher Education and Research Policy Report ‘Developing the UK and Ireland Higher Education and Research Partnership: The Next Steps’ – available to read here.
  • In March, the Chamber made a detailed submission to the Programme for Government negotiations, which we followed up with meetings with representatives of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. Our immediate focus was on the need to support businesses as they navigate their way through this unprecedented crisis, while also ensuring that additional supports would be made available for sectors and businesses most impacted by Brexit.
  • In June, the Chamber made a submission to the Government in advance of the July Stimulus where we advocated for an unprecedented support package in order to “spur on economic growth.” Measures we advocated for included the expansion of the ‘Restart Grant’, maintaining wage subsidy supports for employers and emergency supports for at risk sectors such as hospitality and tourism.
  • In July, the Chamber published its Policy Report following its Offshore Wind Conference – ‘Offshore Wind Development in the Irish Sea: A discussion on the pathway forward’ available to read here.
  • In August, the Chamber published its Policy Report following the Infrastructure Event ‘How Infrastructural Investment can fuel the Recovery, A UK and Irish Perspective’ – available to read here.
  • In September, the Chamber submitted its wide-ranging Pre-Budget Submission to the Department of Finance, the Government and the appropriate opposition spokespersons. The Submission centred around three key pillars: Driving Economic Recovery, Addressing the Consequences of Brexit: Building the Foundations for the Future. Available to read here.

Paul Lynam
Director of Policy