Ireland has fallen one place in this year’s index, but just about holds onto its ‘top 20’ ranking. While the country has performed relatively poorly across the Engagement, Education and Digital sub-indices, it is saved by ‘Government’, consistently one of the country’s strongest areas. This is because, despite ongoing concerns and uncertainty surrounding Brexit, Ireland has seen continuing economic growth and net immigration, with residents continuing to enjoy a high standard of living. This includes access to high-quality housing, healthcare, education and employment for the majority of the Irish population. With disappointing results across most sub-indices this year, including a seven place drop in Culture, it will be essential for Ireland to maintain this impressive level of prosperity and well-being if it wants to prevent a further fall in next year’s index.
The Irish economy continued its ongoing recovery in 2019, with some economists believing that the country is approaching technical full employment. While uncertainty on the potential impact of Brexit remains, the Irish government is preparing measures to insulate the economy from potential post-Brexit shocks.
The potential negative impact of Brexit on the Irish economy has been well-documented, but the move could also affect Ireland’s diplomatic efforts. By removing British MEPs and bureaucrats from the European Parliament, Brexit means that Ireland loses a key ally in Brussels. While previously Ireland and the UK could assist each other in promoting the other’s priorities and proposals, now Ireland will have to turn to neighbours farther afield for support.
As the Brexit deadline looms, it is essential that Ireland navigates these turbulent diplomatic times with care. The Irish government has based next year’s budget on an assumption of no deal Brexit, with appropriate funds set aside for vulnerable sectors. Measures such as these will be essential to ensuring that Ireland’s economic stability and international reputation are secure beyond 31st October.