The government’s new Economic Recovery Plan 2021 sets out a new phase of supports for the next stage of recovery and aims to exceed the pre-crisis employment levels of 2.5 million people in work by 2024.
Initial funding of €915m through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, under the European Recovery and Resilience Facility, plus the forthcoming revised National Development Plan, will create a green and digital job revolution.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin launching the plan said: “This Economic Recovery Plan will kick start a jobs-led recovery and propel the economy forward to a more sustainable, digital and secure future. The renewed supports, investments and policies set out in this Plan will position us firmly on this pathway.
“We will help people return to work through reskilling and upskilling opportunities; drive a renewed innovative economy; and invest in infrastructure, housing and reforms for our longer-term prosperity.
“Our core objective is to restore and then go beyond pre-pandemic employment levels. To not just rebuild, but to build back better.
“In parallel, we will ensure that decarbonisation and digital transitions provide opportunities for all our people. Our policies to encourage economic growth must complement those to improve living standards for all our people across the length and breadth of the island.”
The plan is underpinned by just under €1bn in funding from the NextGenerationEU programme.
In July 2020, the European Council adopted a €750bn Covid-19 recovery package for Europe. This package, NextGenerationEU, is Europe’s shared response to the severe health and economic crisis caused by Covid-19.
At the heart of the NextGenerationEU lies a Recovery and Resilience Facility, which is intended to address the economic and social impacts of the pandemic and make European economies more sustainable, resilient and better prepared for the challenges and opportunities of a green and digital transition.
Ireland will receive approximately €915m in grants from the Recovery and Resilience Facility between now and 2026. A further set of grants will be allocated to each member state in 2023 to address economic developments between now and then.
Ireland’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan
On 28 May last, Ireland submitted its draft National Recovery and Resilience Plan in order to avail of the grants.
The overall objective of Ireland’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan is to contribute to the sustainable, equitable, green and digital recovery effort in a manner that complements and supports the government’s broader recovery efforts.
Ireland’s plan will do this through a set of 16 investments and nine reform commitments under the plan.
The National Recovery and Resilience Plan has been arranged under three priorities
Priority 1: Advancing the Green Transition
Priority 2: Accelerating and expanding digital reforms and transformation
Priority 3: Social and Economic Recovery and Job Creation.
Advancing the green transition
Under Priority 1, advancing green transition, Ireland has committed to making seven investments totalling €503m. These include a public sector deep retrofit programme to undertake the deep retrofit of public office accommodation; de-risking of a low-cost residential retrofit scheme; Enable future electrification through targeted investment of Cork commuter rail; and a river basin management plan to upgrade a minimum of 10 wastewater treatment plants not currently scheduled for upgrading.
Accelerating and expanding digital reforms and transformation
Under Priority 2, advancing digital reform and transition, there will be six investments to be undertaken. These will include developing a shared government data centre; a programme to drive the digital transition of enterprise in Ireland; and, 5G technologies to drive a greener, more innovative Ireland.
Social and economic recovery and job creation
Priority Three, addressing social recovery and job creation, will include three investments totalling €181m. These will include a Solus Recovery Skills Response Programme; and, a technical universities transformation programme to support the development of technical universities and regional economic development.
Delivering a greener Ireland
A total of €524m out of the initial €915m in funding from the programme is to go to climate action and biodiversity projects. Among the items to receive funding are the loan guarantee system for the low-cost retrofitting of homes and the expansion of Cork commuter rail. There will be €20m for the river-basin management plan, which will include upgrading of 10 wastewater treatment plants not already scheduled and the upgrading of public office accommodation through retrofitting. €181m is to be spent on return-to-work schemes and training focusing on the green economy. The Solas Green Skills Action programme will provide training to address climate and low-carbon economy issues, backed by a work-placement programme and expansion of technological universities.