|An image of the planned new headquarters of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. The construction is expected to be completed by 2011.
IBEC, the Irish employers' lobby group, today released the preliminary findings of a new survey of over 300 Irish CEOs from across the country, which found that 84% believe last year's Lisbon Treaty rejection damaged Ireland's international reputation. The survey also found that that over 98% of the CEOs believe that EU membership has been important to the success of Irish business. Among companies with over 50 employees the figure was 100%, while for companies with fewer than 50 employees the figure was 97.6%.
The results of the survey are unlikely to be a surprise.
Since the defeat of the referendum in June 2008, the European Central Bank has given massive support to Ireland. There are of course comfortable commentators and others who believe that Ireland can oppose what the rest of the European Union has compromised on, while still rattling the tin ponny for help.
The most bizarre position is the Irish lecturing Europeans on democratic accountability given the track record of public support for a broken political system at home, where the buck stops nowhere.
Commenting on the survey, IBEC Director of EU and International Affairs Brendan Butler said: "At a time of great economic turbulence a question mark hangs over our reputation and our relationship with Europe. A yes vote is an essential step on the road to economic recovery and will send a very positive signal to our European and international partners.
"When we voted on the Treaty in June last year 100 people a day were losing their jobs, now almost 600 jobs are being lost each day. We face enormous challenges and we must focus on protecting as many jobs as possible. We have an opportunity on October 2 to send a clear message to our European and international partners that we want to play a full and active part in a reformed Europe.
"By removing the uncertainty that currently exists we will ensure that Ireland remains an attractive location for foreign investment, while Irish companies will gain improved access to the European market of over 500 million people.
"The Treaty will protect key national interests and reform the EU to face the challenges ahead. Our ability to set our own tax policy is guaranteed along with arrangements concerning foreign direct investment. This means that Ireland will remain among one of the most attractive places in the world to invest.
“It is vital that Ireland is at the heart of a reformed and better-functioning EU. The Treaty will reform how decision are made in the EU so that Europe can remain an engine for economic growth and prosperity. It will enable the EU to responded faster to the challenges ahead, such as energy security, global health threats, the rise of India and China as economic forces, and climate change. This is vital for the success of business in Ireland.
“Our relationship with the US is of critical importance. There are currently 470 US companies operating in Ireland, which provide over 95,000 well paid jobs. These companies set up here because of our favourable tax rates, our well-educated dynamic English speaking workforce and, crucially, because of Ireland's constructive and engaged membership of the EU. A second 'no' vote would create uncertainty and send a very worrying signal back into the boardrooms of US companies, where decisions are made about future investment in Ireland.”