Theresa May’s plans for Brexit may have suffered a setback after campaigners won their high court battle over her decision not to seek parliamentary approval before starting the process. Nevertheless, any move by the UK to leave the EU is likely to pose significant challenges. If it is hard, as favoured by the British prime minister, it implies that the UK will be outside the customs union with all the trade dislocation that that implies.
The rationale, such as it is, for that decision, is that all modes of staying within the customs union will require freedom of movement of people. And that is the rub. The predominant reason for voting no was around immigration, conflated with a notion of taking back control (of borders, usually unsaid). This opens an opportunity for Ireland, if it can show the vision to grasp it
Governments usually, and often quite correctly, come in for severe stick for lack of joined up thinking. In that regard it is quite pleasant to see the initiative from the Department of Social Protection on moneylenders. Linking repayment to credit union loans to welfare payments allows low risk in lending and thus low interest rates. Would that similar joined up thinking pervaded the issue of student loans.Continue reading →
So, the Social Democrats have launched their “not a manifesto“, making them second to Renua in the early stages of the 2016 General Election. As I reviewed the Renua offering on education, so as not to be accused of partisanship, I will, time permitting, do them all. So what do the SD’s promise on education Continue reading →
There has been a disturbance in the force? Do you feel it? The opening words of the trailer for the much awaited new Star wars movie might as well describe how the ground seems to be shifting on higher education funding. We seem to be moving towards a student loan model, although there is zero chance of anything remotely as contentious as that being announced this side of an imminent general election. Continue reading →
Ireland, or at least the government, is in the grip of a frenzy around entrepreneurship. From local government, through the higher education system, to the highest in the land, hardly a day goes by without some new band jumping on the wagon. We are being flogged with the mantra that we must start up, become entrepreneurs, be self-employed, yadda yadda yadda. It’s a diversion of resources, built around a self-perpetuating meme. The SME sector is really important, in Ireland and in Europe. In Europe, as of 2012, SMEs accounted for over 99% of all companies, employing just under 90m people. They account for 66% of total employment and for about 58% of total output. However, when we think of SME’s in Ireland we think of small and medium-sized companies. The SME definition is companies with less than 250 employees, €50m in total turnover. This is by Irish standards a fairly substantial enterprise. In Ireland, SME account for 68% of total employment. Thus, it makes sense, to some extent, to ensure that SMEs as a sector are in rude health. What it may not make sense to do is to pour more and more scarce resources into creating startups and micro enterprises, in pursuit of a problem that doesn’t exist.