Ministers to be briefed on new EU plans set to have major implications for Irish budget policy

Cabinet will also hear of roll-out of 2024 summer programme which involves schools providing activities and excursions for children with complex special educational needs

The Government is to be briefed on new European rules predicted to have a significant implication for budget policy in Ireland at Cabinet on Wednesday. Minister for Finance Michael McGrath will update Ministers on new fiscal rules which are currently going through the formal EU legislative process and which may be in force as soon as May.

Under the new rules existing guardrails for spending will stay in place – including a target of keeping a budget deficit under 3 per cent of Gross Domestic Product and an overall debt-to-GDP target not exceeding 60 per cent.

Ireland is within those rules as it stands, but the new rule set will adopt a longer timespan instead of the one-year period as is currently the case. Countries will now be asked to produce specific medium-term budgetary plans, with each member state having to publish a four- or five-year plan setting out net spending plans for the years ahead.

Once those plans are endorsed by the European Council the rules envisage that countries will not be able to deviate from them over their lifespan –- depending on the length of a country’s parliament staying in place.


If a new government is elected in that period there is flexibility to adopt a new budget plan. The rules are not expected to be formally adopted by next month, when Mr McGrath will publish the Department of Finance’s new economic forecasts in the Stability Programme Update. However, Ireland’s first medium-term plan under the new rules will be drafted as part of Budget 2025.

Mr McGrath is also expected to seek agreement from Cabinet to publish legislation underpinning the establishment of two new long-term investment plans established as part of last year’s budget.

The Minister for Education Norma Foley will update Cabinet on the roll-out of the 2024 summer programme, which involves schools providing activities and excursions for children with complex special educational needs and those children at risk of educational disadvantage during the summer months. Around €40 million was allocated in Budget 2024 for the programme.

Minister for Arts and Media Catherine Martin is expected to bring the names of new appointments to the board of TG4 to Cabinet.

Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman is not expected to bring a new plan for accommodating refugees and asylum seekers to Cabinet despite predictions it would be ready for Ministers to consider this week.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times