MEP Frances Fitzgerald has called on European Union (EU) institutions to better assist Irish small and medium businesses (SMEs) to grow across the trading bloc.
Speaking at a seminar in Dublin on Friday, Ms Fitzgerald outlined the "unprecedented market integration" between the economies of EU member states, "serving as a driver for growth and competitiveness and supporting Europe’s economic and political power at a global level".
However, she noted, Irish business still have much to gain from being in the single market: SMEs have "have yet to unlock the full untapped potential on offer".
"If we want to be able to respond to economic pressures from the USA and China, we must focus on competitiveness and growth, particularly for our SMEs.
"More needs to be done to improve SME trading opportunities within the Single Market, to improve awareness of existing opportunities, and to boost investment and support programmes to assist SME with their trading activities," she said.
Minister of State Jennifer Carroll MacNeill also spoke at the seminar, where she noted the role that the single market has played in created opportunity for women to "participate fully" in the workforce.
CEO of Enterprise Ireland Leo Clancy said that "ambitious Irish companies "with a focus on innovation, collaboration and co-operation have a huge amount to contribute to a vibrant Single Market.”
Cheif Executive of the Irish SME Association Neil McDonnell stressed that while Ireland's economic figures continue to perform "at the top of the class", the nature of the State's "small, open" economy leaves it vulnerable to the fates of larger trading partners. Recent global events have shown the potentially detrimental effects of this kind of relationship.
"We have witnessed a 'perma-crisis' since 2019, from UK withdrawal from the EU to global pandemic, to Russian invasion of Ukraine, and now the threat of a US recession.
"In ISME’s view, our best bulwark against a turbulent international environment is a strong and expanding indigenous enterprise sector. We think this is a really good time to reappraise Ireland’s industrial policy and encourage new global champions from our domestic enterprise base.”