SMEs getting increasingly ‘entangled in regulations’, says Chambers Ireland

Organisation calls on Irish candidates in the upcoming European elections to heed the needs of businesses

Ian Talbot, chief executive of Chambers Ireland said Ireland will not only become energy self-sufficient, "we will become a vital part of the wider EU energy system.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Irish businesses are getting increasingly “entangled in [EU] regulations” connected to the so-called Green and digital transitions, Chambers Ireland has said.

Calling on prospective Irish candidates in the upcoming European elections to heed the needs of businesses here, the organisation which represents more than 20 county and local chambers of commerce said it wanted the parliament and commission’s mandate for the next five years to focus “on actions that will deliver on sustainability and productivity” for SMEs.

“After five years which have seen businesses reacting to Brexit, Covid, inflation, energy shocks, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and successive supply shocks, Chambers Ireland are calling on the institutions of the EU to concentrate their activities on actions that will deliver tangible results,” it said in a statement.

The group said the rapid increase in both the amount of European Union legislation and the pace at which it is being delivered had alienated many firms.

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“This has two consequences: Firstly, SMEs are getting ever more entangled in regulations, and secondly huge efforts are being put into policies which only have marginal benefits when they are finally delivered,” it said.

It called for a more strategic, continental level, energy and industrial policy “that can activate the untapped energy resources off Ireland’s coasts”.

It also advocated more support to help small firms engage in trade within the union , and a “stronger focus on delivering effective policies which do not circumvent the impact-assessment processes, particularly for SMEs”.

Chambers Ireland’s chief executive Ian Talbot said: “Ireland is almost unique within the EU, our country is going to be one of the greatest beneficiaries of the Green Transition. Ireland will not only become energy self-sufficient, we will become a vital part of the wider EU energy system.”

“But this will require investments at a level that we are not institutionally prepared for, and we will need EU knowledge and assistance if we are to deliver for the other 26 member states,” he said.

“Effective policies are what matter to our members. Everyone understands the necessity of delivering on the big issues like sustainability, but our members are having to respond to policies like the potential late-payments directive [a regulation designed to combat late payment in commercial transactions] which is a solution to a non-problem and will increase costs for many businesses, such as the retail sector,” he said.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times