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  • Frances Fitzgerald

A voice for Business in Europe - 'Celebrating 30 years of the EU Single Market'



On Friday March 24th 2023, I was delighted to host a seminar for SMEs, Business Groups and Entrepreneurs in Dublin for a high-level discussion on the opportunities and challenges businesses in Ireland face as we mark 30 years of the EU Single Market.

A robust discussion with many indigenous businesses and organisations including IBEC, ISME, members of Chambers Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.


Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the Irish and European economy.


We owe the single market much: An estimated 56 million jobs, roughly 70% of exports of small and medium-sized enterprises and trade in goods, which alone accounts for around 25% of the EU GDP. In Ireland, SMEs account for nearly 70% of employment.


However, we still have a lot of work to do to ensure that Irish businesses and SMEs get the most benefit possible from the EU single market. More needs to be done to improve SME trading opportunities within the Single Market and boost investment and support programmes to assist SME with their trading activities.


Multinationals based in Ireland have been able to take full advantage of the Single Market on Ireland’s doorstep, and this is a good thing, yet smaller and medium Irish enterprises have yet to unlock the full untapped potential on offer.


Speakers at the seminar offered their unique in accessing the EU internal market, sourcing funding at EU level and how to reap the full benefits of the Single Market.


Minister Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, focused her keynote address on areas of the Single Market that are still underdeveloped, such as the area of financial services and why we need a more integrated market for banking, insurance, pensions and trading – this benefits both citizens and businesses.


Susan McGarry, Managing Director of Ecocem Ireland explained the day-to-day operation of the Single Market and the benefits it delivers to her business as Ecocem now trades in ten different EU countries.


Aongus Hegarty, President of International Markets, Dell Technologies shared his experience of operating in the Single Market and how important access to the Single Market is for indigenous Irish companies and for multinational companies operating in Ireland.


CEO of Enterprise Ireland, Leo Clancy focused his remarks on the common challenges businesses face when accessing the Single Market, particularly when they are trying to grow their business and outlined a range of supports EI offers directly to businesses.


The question of skills including how Ireland can remain competitive in a market of 27 Member States and where we should be working to develop future strength was highlighted by Neil McDonnell, Chief Executive of ISME.


In my role as a legislator in the European Parliament, I shared my thoughts on reforms coming down the line from the EU of which businesses should be aware of.

The green and digital transition was also a major topic of discussion. The seminar gave an opportunity to those businesses in attendance to voice their opinion on implementation periods and the need for greater consultation.


Check out a quick summary of the seminar above.


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