Examine the impact of European Union expansion on Ireland’s economy and/or culture. (30 marks)
Ireland has experienced a multitude of benefits since it joined the EU in 1973. The impact the EU has had, and is currently having, on Ireland’s economy and culture is very much significant.
- The year 2004 saw 10 new member states join the EU.
- There are currently 28 member countries in the EU.
- The signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 allowed the free movement of labour between member countries and also established the idea for a single currency to be in operation throughout the EU (with the exception of 9 member countries).
- While the Maastricht Treaty was signed in 1992, its effect was truly experienced once expansion of the EU took place.
Impacts of EU Growth on Ireland:
- Ireland experienced a lack of sufficient labour in the construction industry during the economic boom of the early 2000’s.
- To aid economic growth at this time it was estimated that nearly 400,000 people from new member countries such as Lithuania and Poland immigrated into Ireland between 2004 and 2008.
- When the economic recession occurred in Ireland in the late 2000’s this trend reversed. Ireland saw many of its labour force emigrate to parts of the EU in search of work.
- The workers who arrived in the early 2000’s to engage themselves in Ireland’s economic prosperity greatly contributed to the economy in a number of ways. They filled gaps in the labour market and their taxes contributed to the state’s revenue accumulation.
- These workers spent money in grocery stores, rent and other commodities which in turn encouraged Ireland’s economy to grow.
- With any large scale immigration trend, pressure was applied to Ireland’s infrastructure, such as its state run transport system, its education system and its social welfare programme.
- House prices increased nationally and urban areas experienced more traffic due to the rapid increase in the number of the cars on the road.
- Growth in the number of EU member countries has allowed Ireland to participate in a larger EU market, which has substantially less tax costs than outside EU markets.
- Irish companies that are involved in the business of exporting goods to other countries have benefitted greatly from this larger EU market.
- The flip side of this is that some countries are making the decision to locate/relocate their factories/call centres to other member countries where minimum wage is lowest.
- EU growth has impacted Irish culture in a significant way. There are currently (2018) 122,500 Polish people living in Ireland. Polish people have integrated well into Irish society and culture.
- The establishment of Polish speciality shops is now commonplace in most Irish towns.
Considering the level of coverage Brexit is acquiring in the media at the moment there would be no harm in preparing yourself to answer a question on the topic of the EU. With a simple Google search, you can research the ADVANTAGES and DISADVANTAGES of Ireland being a member of the EU.
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