Posted on Wednesday 1 April 2015 by Ulster Business
Enda Kenny speaking at the CBI Annual Dinner at the Ramada Plaza
If the UK gave up its membership of the European Union (EU), Northern Ireland’s economy would be hit hard, according to Taoseach Enda Kenny.
Speaking at the CBI Annual Dinner, Mr Kenny said being part of the EU’s structural and agricultural funding has helped fuel growth and employment and attracted foreign direct investment.
And he said being part of the EU’s commercial and economic framework has mitigated the island of Ireland’s geographical remoteness.
“Membership of the common market has been an obvious boon to Northern Irish exporters and businesses,” Mr Kenny said. “It has brought jobs and investment and put more money in peoples’ pockets.”
He said exiting from the EU would be a big setback for the economy here.
“Economies like those in the Republic, or in Northern Ireland, can’t afford to go it alone. Economic heft and strength – especially when it comes to negotiating trade deals and creating a vast home market – is to be found in unity, not isolation. That’s why disengaging from the EU would therefore be – in my view – a retrograde economic step for Northern Ireland.”
Mr Kenny called for unity in helping to reform the EU, to make it a more efficient body.
“The workings of the EU may not be perfect. It has its faults and its limitations. It frustrates all of us at one time or another. But the positive impact it has had on Northern Ireland, our economies, and the British-Irish relationship has been nothing less than transformative.”
The Taoseach also called for more economic collaboration between Northern Ireland and the Republic, referencing a joint trade mission to Singapore last year made up of ministers from Dublin, Westminster and Stormont.
And he said proper planning for infrastructure investment is crucial if the island of Ireland is to reach the target of 10m people by 2050 set out by the joint CBI/IBEC All-Island Investment Project.
“If we are to turn this challenge into real opportunities we need to work together, in planning and investing in the infrastructure necessary for the medium to longer term.”