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National Reform Programme


National Reform Programme

 Part of the European Semester, Ireland’s National Reform Programme 2015 is submitted to the European Commission in April in conjunction with our Stability Programme Update.

European Semester

The European Semester process is the post-crisis cycle of enhanced economic and fiscal policy coordination at EU level. In April, each Member State submits a National Reform Programme and Stability/Convergence Programme updates.

Ireland participated fully in the 2014 European Semester process, and this was the first time under the enhanced economic governance arrangements that we received Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs). There were seven, covering the following areas:

1)         Budgetary/fiscal policy to ensure deficit and debt reduction;

2)         Advancing reform of the healthcare sector, including financial management systems and pharmaceutical spending;

3)         Improving active labour market policies, with a particular focus on the long-term unemployed, the low skilled and youth, including reform of further education and training;

4)         Tackling low work intensity households, including facilitating female labour market participation and access to childcare;

5)         SME policy, including access to finance;

6)         Performance of the banks on mortgage arrears and distressed SME loans; and

7)         Reducing costs and improving efficiency of legal services and Courts processes.


Europe 2020 Strategy

The Europe 2020 Strategy was adopted in 2010 and aims to enable Europe to emerge stronger from the current economic crisis and to turn the European Union into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy.

Five headline targets for 2020 have been set at the level of the EU as a whole, covering employment, research and development, climate change, education and poverty.

All EU Member states have committed to achieving Europe 2020 targets and have translated them into national targets and growth-enhancing policies.

Ireland’s National Targets are as follows:

Employment – to raise to 69-71% the employment rate for women and men aged 20-64, including through the greater participation of young people, older workers and low-skilled workers and the better integration of legal migrants, and to review the target level of ambition in 2014, in the context of a proposed mid-term review of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

Research and Development – to raise combined public and private investment levels in this sector to 2.5% of GNP (approximately equivalent to 2.0% of GDP).

Climate Change – to reduce emissions in the non-traded sector by 20% compared to 2005 levels; to increase the share of renewables in final energy consumption to 16%; and to move towards a 20% increase in energy efficiency. 

Education – to reduce the percentage of 18-24 year olds with at most lower secondary education and not in further education and training to 8%; and to increase the share of 30-34 years olds having completed tertiary or equivalent education to at least 60%.

Poverty – to reduce the number experiencing consistent poverty to 4% by 2016 (interim target) and to 2% or less by 2020, from the 2010 baseline rate of 6.3%, which will lift at least 200,000 people out of the risk of poverty and exclusion between 2012 and 2020.

 Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder engagement is an important part of the process. In preparing our NRP, input was sought from a wide range of stakeholders, including representatives of civil society and regional representatives, and the Minister of State for European Union Affairs discussed a draft of the NRP with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs prior to finalisation.  The NRP reports on that engagement and the formal submissions received are published on this page.