Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 26 November 2013
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Forthcoming Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council: Discussion with Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Apologies have been received from Deputy Áine Collins and Senator Feargal Quinn. I propose to postpone housekeeping matters until next week since the Minister is waiting outside. Before I invite in the Minister, do members have any questions to put to the EU policy clerk on any of the issues? No. Everyone got a briefing document on potential issues. Are members satisfied? Okay.
We will hear a briefing from the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Richard Bruton, on the forthcoming meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs, ESPCO, Council, in Brussels on 9 December 2013. The Minister will brief the committee on the agenda and then members will have an opportunity to engage with the Minister. Later, we will discuss progress on the negotiations on the EU-US transatlantic trade and investment partnership agreement. I welcome the Minister and his officials, Mr. Paul Cullen and Mr. Dermot Sheridan.
The ESPCO Council is on 9 December. The agenda falls into some legislative and non-legislative items. I will deal with the items that fall into my remit. The Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Joan Burton, and the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, can be involved in different parts of the council. The agenda is still a little fluid, but the key non-legislative item will be the so-called European semester. This is the fourth European semester. Commissioner Andor will present on the annual growth survey, the joint employment report and the alert mechanism. These documents precede the setting of recommendations for member states. This is the start of the process.
The main legislative item that falls into my area relates to posted workers. It is a little too early to say whether the Lithuanian Presidency will seek to get a general approach or broad agreement from the Council on the issue.
I will brief the committee on the annual growth survey. This is the start of the European semester, a calendar of policy co-ordination whereby national policies are reviewed collectively and recommendations are made to member states. The Commission has published its growth survey and has set out that the main challenge is how to sustain the recovery that is now under way. It has put forward five main priorities for member states for the coming year. Broadly, they are the same priorities that the Commission listed last year. The first is pursuing differentiated growth-friendly fiscal consolidation. The second is restoring lending to the economy.
The third is promoting growth and competitiveness for today and tomorrow. The fourth is tackling unemployment and the social consequences of the crisis, and the fifth is modernising public administration. These are broadly accepted as an approach to deal with the challenges we face. There will be a focus on youth unemployment in a number of member states, including Ireland. The next stage is to go to the spring European Council meeting where the Heads of State will recommend the priorities on which member states should focus in preparation for their own national reform proposals. Those documents, the alert mechanism, the joint employment report and the growth survey, were published on 13 November.
The joint employment report provides an assessment of economic and social trends. This highlights the fact that there are signs that unemployment has stopped growing. It focuses on the need to boost growth in fast-growing sectors and publishes the scoreboard of key employment and social indicators across the member states. This was published in the Commission communication and is a new feature, which the Lithuanian Presidency seeks to have approved as an ongoing feature. The thinking behind this was to ensure that the broader social dimensions and imbalances would have a more prominent position in the assessment of policy, rather than their being dominated by concerns from ECOFIN, the finance council, which naturally focuses on fiscal issues.
The difference in this semester is that Ireland will be a full participant. In the past few years because we have been a programme country the recommendations from the European semester did not apply to us because we already had a set of commitments to deliver to the troika, for the quarterly reports. The debates and these reports will frame sort of recommendations likely to emerge in the country specific recommendations later in the year. The Commission is also expected to provide Ministers with an update on the state of play regarding the implementation of the youth guarantee. The Department of Social Protection leads the necessary planning for the guarantee here. There is also likely to be a presentation on a recommendation for a quality framework for traineeships to try to develop some standards in this field, which would enable trainees to require high quality work experience under safe conditions. Many member states are anxious to develop a better approach to this work. Germany and Austria are held out as the exemplars because they have a very strong and well-established trainee system underpinned by employers, unions and training organisations.
The posting of workers directive has had a long life and entails the attempt to find a balanced way to deal with two freedoms, that of businesses to provide services across the member states, and the freedom of workers to move and to enjoy the protection of workers' rights. The posting of workers directive is designed to create a better enforcement environment to ensure that workers posted abroad will receive their rights and that competition will be fair in that respect. The importance of this directive is recognised by Ireland in particular and by most member states. We have a comprehensive body of employment rights legislation, which applies to all workers, including posted workers and we really rely on the National Employment Rights Authority, NERA, to enforce these. The proposal here is a balanced package of enforcement, which would ensure that there is more effective co-operation between national authorities in the area of enforcement, with cross-border enforcement fines and penalties, improved access to information for posted workers and service providers, greater transparency, greater certainty and to make it easier to control across member states. This tries to introduce a standard that could be easily enforced.
There is a series of other legislative items on which progress reports will be provided, one is a directive to facilitate free movement of workers. That is likely to make progress over the forthcoming period. Another is the equality directive and yet another involves gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on the stock exchanges. We are not clear how far these will progress. The likelihood is that there will be progress reports and nothing more. There will be a communication on free movement, which has already been published and is designed to clarify the rights of citizens and their entitlement to social assistance and social security in different member states. That is a Commission publication which has been reviewed and on which it will present a report.
The last item is a German initiative which the Commission has adopted, to strengthen cooperation between public employment services. The idea is that there would be more benchmarking across employment services in different member states and in time to develop standards and policy recommendations and best practice in this area. It is not clear yet whether the council will be invited to agree a general approach on this. It comes within the remit of the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Joan Burton. I think that gives the committee a thumbnail sketch of what is involved and I am happy to take questions.
I welcome the Minister and his officials to the meeting. This morning we must acknowledge the very strong figures from the Central Statistics Office on employment. We all welcome them as a very positive indication of a recovering economy.
Is there any timeline in place for the conclusion of the posting of workers directive? Can the Minister outline why we oppose Article 12? There was always a concern about the potential impact of the posting of workers directive on our construction sector. That is more particularly the case now that we are in the recovery phase. Strong companies within the EU could use the posting of workers directive to get around tendering or to put in lower tenders for some of the large-scale capital projects planned here. Is there any work under way within the Department to protect against that?
One of the aims of the annual growth survey is to restore lending within the economy. That is one area where we still struggle. The specific aim is to look at alternatives to bank lending. What work is under way in that area? Given that the schemes rolled out here as alternatives have not really taken off, are there any lessons the Minister can learn from colleagues in Europe to inject some action into those schemes?
I will leave the questions on the youth guarantee to Deputy Lyons. The quality framework for traineeships is very important. Where are we on that? Is there a timeline to complete discussions and actions on that, so that we can implement the recommendations as soon as possible?
I agree with Deputy Calleary that the employment numbers today were encouraging, with 58,000 additional people at work.
The public sector continued to shed about 4,000 workers in the period while almost 62,000 additional people are at work in the private sector, in the sectors which are strongly export oriented. It shows that the economy is making a transition to the sectors that are sustainable for the long term.
It is not clear at this point whether an agreement can be secured with regard to the posting of workers directive. Two issues have been the bone of contention, one being the notion of the number of controls that member states can require a company to provide and the second is this issue of joint and several liability. The Irish approach is the concern that if joint and several liability is imposed, it is imposing on the primary contractor the responsibility for activities of another guilty party, so to speak. Our approach has been to enforce directly against any subcontractor who is in breach of the employment rights of workers. The directive seeks to create a new liability. There are questions as to how this risk would be administered and managed. A number of member states have concerns that an additional regulatory burden is being created in this area. The other item is less contentious and is probably an issue about deciding the number of controls to be permitted.
In reply to Deputy Calleary, we have been reviewing a number of alternatives to bank lending. I know that Deputy Calleary has an interest in crowdfunding. The State bodies joint working group on access to finance is looking at a number of examples from other member states and it is liaising with other countries to see what can be done. We have instruments which are partly funded by the European Investment Bank, some of which have been successful while others not so. They are involved with microfinance. We continue to experiment and to develop initiatives in this field. As the Deputy acknowledges, we will need long-term alternatives to bank lending. The banks will not return to the role they exercised in the past and we need to allow a number of flowers to bloom. This is our approach in the search for new alternatives. This issue was also raised at the global network.
On the quality framework for traineeships, we will present a proposal on 4 December 2013.
That is good. At what stage will that proposal filter down to the people in traineeships? One of my concerns - not a political one - is that it all takes so much time and we do not have time. In order to put down a foundation for resolving the EU-wide unemployment crisis, there needs to be rapid action and the quality framework is very important. Will this go back to member states for their input? Will it rather be 4 December 2014 before we see anything tangible?
It should be adopted before the June elections, which is the target. It is not my direct area of responsibility but I understand that a review of apprenticeships is under way which will report shortly. While this is a framework across member states, Ireland will be taking action with the review of apprenticeships and the establishment of SOLAS. There will be national initiatives as well as this broad framework which sets out the principles and practices that ought to inform such national approaches. The national dimension is running in parallel.
The posting of workers directive relates to workers in a firm who are temporarily transferred between member states in order to fulfil contract work. The directive is to ensure that workers receive the minimum protections in the state in which they are working and is intended to circumvent the movement of cheap labour and the race to the bottom. The problem in this State is that the minimum protection would be the minimum wage. At the moment the registered employment agreements, REA, are in abeyance and are not replaced by any collective agreements. For example, some construction workers and local contractors and workers might find themselves protected by the minimum wage but not by the agreed rates which were agreed under the REAs. This is a concern.
Article 9 has more or less split opinion among member states into two groups, one of which is comprised of Germany, Belgium, Italy and France. This group is in favour of a regime that would leave each of the member states free to impose any national controls on service providers. The second group is led by the UK and this State seems to support that group's policy of giving the European Commission a strong role in ensuring that measures adopted by the member state are compatible with EU law.
Will the Government move to support the position that member states should have the freedom to impose national controls? Can the Government move to place these collective agreements back on a legislative footing? This would give proper minimum protections and a standard or agreed protection for those who work in the construction sector.
Article 12 proposes the mandatory introduction of a concept of joint and several liability to subcontracting contract arrangements in the construction sector. Why is Ireland supporting this proposal? If it is uniformly applied across the EU, will this provide a level playing field with regard to protection for workers?
The EU semester is the economic planning process for the EU and member states. The assessment by the EU sets out a number of growth and target figures for this State. It is interesting that with regard to 2014 it forecasts GDP growth of 1.7% and inflation of 0.9% but that unemployment will fall to 12.3%. For 2015 it forecasts GDP growth at 2.5%, 1.2% inflation and unemployment down 11.7%. It would seem that the figures and the targets forecast indicated that we will have very modest growth, that inflation will still be with, yet there will be but very ambitious figures regarding employment. Something is not quite right. I wonder are the unemployment figures and the targets factoring in more emigration or low value work. There is a forecast for inflation to remain and very modest GDP growth levels but much more ambitious targets for reducing unemployment. I ask the Minister to clarify.
I will begin with Senator Cullinane's last question. We have had extraordinarily strong employment performance in the past 12 months. The figures are suggesting 3.2% growth in employment against a pretty subdued GDP growth background. At the moment, I think GNP is a better indicator of true activity because of the impact of the so-called patent cliff on nominal values of pharmaceutical exports and profit repatriation. We are delivering very strong employment performance which is reflected in the increasing activity across the sectors of the economy. I refer to the strong performance of agriculture and food and IDA and Enterprise Ireland-supported companies in the areas of industrial exports, business services, ICT, for example. We are seeing the emergence of strong sectors which are creating employment.
That is bringing down the unemployment rate. We are already at 12.6%, as of the October figures published today, so the 12.3% is certainly achievable.
The pick-up in growth will help the delivery of employment. My experience with companies active in the export markets is that there is a good pipeline of investment and promising opportunities. We need a stable environment at European level in order to deliver these numbers. In the meantime, we are showing our ability to achieve employment growth even in a more difficult economic climate.
We support member states' national control measures under the posting of workers directive. That issue came down to a question of numbers. There has been an effort to split the difference between a fixed and open number, and that will probably be the position. We have had observations from the committee on this issue. The view of both the committee and the Department is that we should avoid the imposition of unnecessary administrative burdens on businesses. This is a new and untested area in that joint and several liability is not something to which we have been accustomed. Member states have the freedom to impose new measures under Article 9, with a role for the Commission in monitoring their compliance with EU law. There will be the ability to do more in this regard, but all such proposals will have to be shown to be reasonable.
We were initially in favour of a closed list, but the consensus is now moving towards an open list, with a Commission verification that what is being put into the open list is not unreasonable. That is the direction in which the proposals are moving and it is a consensus we would be happy to support.
I accept there is a problem in regard to registered employment agreements in light of the Supreme Court decision to strike down the REA framework. We are seeking to rebuild that framework in a way that is constitutionally robust. That work is ongoing.
If we are rebuilding that framework - I hope it is done as quickly as possible - will it then be the case that workers will have these additional protections under the posting of workers directive in addition to the requirements in regard to the minimum wage?
Workers will be protected in our law under the REAs when the latter are restored. The existence of legally backed agreements is recognised under European Union law and ensures, in accordance with the posting of workers directive, that contractors from outside jurisdictions who may be using employees from lower wage economies do not obtain an advantage over local contractors in terms of wage costs. The existing agreements are recognised within European law. From an Irish perspective, we need to repair the legislation.
The document circulated by the Minister states:
Will the Minister clarify whether anything has changed in respect of the entitlements of EU citizens who move from one member state to another?
The Commission published a communication on free movement yesterday which will also be the subject of a presentation to the Council. It clarifies the conditions citizens need to meet to be entitled to free movement to benefit from social assistance and to social security benefits.
There is nothing essentially new in the communication to which I referred. As I understand it, it is simply a matter of reviewing established practices in this area. An example of an existing practice would be the requirement to work one stamp in order to activate one's record from country to country. There are several of these types of restrictions in operation.
My colleague, Deputy Dara Calleary, said that he would leave it to me to raise the issue of youth unemployment. It seems that if one talks about something often enough, one essentially becomes branded with that particular issue. It then becomes hard to get a job in another movie, so to speak. The main point when it comes to youth unemployment is that most of the actions that need to be taken must be taken on a national basis. At the same time, it would be remiss of me not to point out, while we have the Minister in the room, that it is often during the tea breaks of meetings that most politics is done. It is important that he take such opportunities at EU meetings to speak to counterparts with similar portfolios from other member states. There is a great deal of positive engagement on the youth unemployment issue, but we have a responsibility to do more. Given our status as a country about to emerge from a bailout programme it has always been acknowledged that any roll-out of the youth guarantee and other initiatives to address the horrendous youth unemployment situation we are currently facing will be done on a phased basis. To a certain extent, we run the risk when we talk about youth guarantees and youth employment initiatives of overselling ourselves and thereby possibly letting ourselves and our young people down. It is important that we get the message across at meetings of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council that more needs to be done to address this issue and no stone should be left unturned.
As to what can be done nationally, it is important to note that this is an issue which cuts across Departments. I understand an interdepartmental group, led by the Department of Social Protection and including the Departments of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Public Expenditure and Reform, Education and Skills, and Children and Youth Affairs, is examining youth employment initiatives. There are actions that are encouraged by the EU but which we have thus far failed to take. Social clauses, for example, do not contravene European legislation. In fact, if done right, they are encouraged. There is a great deal of good practice in this regard from which we can learn. Scotland, for instance, has implemented social clauses exceptionally well. The Welsh, unfortunately, did less well with their notion of Welsh jobs for Welsh people, but they are learning from that. Another area in which we can do more is that of social enterprise. At a meeting of the committee last week we heard that Ireland is at half the level of other European countries in this regard. Local enterprise offices need to start treating social enterprises as equally important as, if not more important than, standard businesses. These are businesses by another name, with the same objective of making money but an added dimension of a social mission.
As I said, much positive work is being done in the area of youth employment initiatives. However, Ireland needs to convey the message to its European partners that we can and must do more. I am sure the Minister is cognisant of all these issues, and I do not even need a response from him. If Deputy Calleary had not landed me with the opportunity to make these points, I would not have said anything at all.
The Deputy's contribution certainly deserves a response. As he knows, my colleague, the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Joan Burton, is actively engaged on this issue and is examining how we can fulfil our obligations in this regard. An implementation plan is due at the end of the year.
The Minister is examining issues such as social clauses and there is a commitment to introduce the latter in Ireland for the first time.
We are also considering the position with regard to social enterprise. The Minister of State at my Department, Deputy Sherlock, is examining the possibilities in this area. Our entrepreneurship review is looking specifically at youth entrepreneurship as an area in which there is potential. When discussing matters with employers, I take every opportunity possible to promote the JobBridge, JobsPlus and MOMEMTUM programmes. These are well designed and they have the potential to make an impact. We need to ensure that there is greater take-up in respect of them.
It is encouraging that in the past 12 months some 20,000 young people have left the live register in order to take up employment. There is movement in this regard but the level of unemployment remains unacceptably high. I must point out, however, that the figures released earlier today show that the rate of unemployment among young people has fallen by 4.5%. That is a significant drop. Young people were certainly the victims of the collapse in employment, be it as a result of last in, first out policies or the fact that the market was sluggish. There were no new opportunities on offer and young people certainly bore the brunt of what occurred. Today's figures show for the first time that the balance is in the process of being redressed to some degree. The latter is due, to a certain extent, to the impact of the measures in question. However, there is also the fact that our recovery is more broad-based in nature and is no longer being driven by the ICT sector and a few others. Employment is increasing in nine out of ten sectors at present and those getting jobs include people in skilled trades and individuals in low skilled occupations. A variety of opportunities are emerging in the labour market, which is a good omen in the context of the measures in question providing young people with a leg up.
I am interested in teasing out the position with regard to the quality framework for traineeships, a matter in respect of which Deputy Calleary posed a question. The Minister indicated that the apprenticeship scheme is being reviewed and that SOLAS has been established. I read a newspaper article yesterday which indicated that the City & Guilds has produced a report on the value of vocational training, while today's headlines relate to the number of students different schools send on to third level. Vocational training should have been a bigger story, particularly in view of the fact that we are living in a period of flux. The Minister referred to Germany and Denmark, in which much greater emphasis is place on vocational training. In the context of the review of the apprenticeship scheme, does he foresee a move back towards manufacturing? The food production sector is doing well but there is a dearth of quality training programmes in the hospitality sector. Does the Minister agree that we should shift the emphasis away from third level and move towards vocational training? I am sure he is aware of the value of traineeships and of ensuring that they are adequately resourced and that there are proper quality frameworks in place in respect of them. This is a point which we must continue to make.
Yes. That will have to be grown over time. The MOMENTUM programme is interesting and operates more along the lines of an apprenticeship model. It runs from 20 weeks to 40 weeks and there are 6,500 places available on it. The jury is still out with regard to how successful it can be. However, I am of the view that it can serve as a very useful bridge. Germany has a much more structured, long-term apprenticeship model which is connected to manufacturing but MOMENTUM has the potential to be the start of something. Obviously, there is a need to branch out. The apprenticeship model which previously obtained here was quite rigid and was very much linked to the construction sector. Traineeships can provide a more flexible model and they can be used in a wider range of sectors. There was a training structure of some sort in place in the food sector in the past but this seems to have been damaged during the boom. We need to restore that structure.
The review of the apprenticeship scheme does not fall directly within my remit. However, there has been a consultation process and I understand recommendations will be presented to the Minister for Education and Skills. The recommendations to be made relate to legislative changes, model of delivery, curriculum, range of crafts and occupation and funding and finance mechanisms and the review is due for completion in December. Much of the material involved will be available for the committee to assess in the very near future.
There are three line Ministers, namely, those with responsibility for education and skills, jobs, enterprise and innovation and social protection, involved with this brief. Does it concern the Minister, Deputy Bruton, that matters may get lost between the cracks? In the context of where we need to be in terms of focus, is there an argument to be made for one focused department of jobs in each of the member states across the Union? Would that not be better than having different Ministries dealing with various aspects and resulting in genuine initiatives being watered down because of the need to compromise?
I will give the Deputy an honest answer but I do not know whether it is the right one. One can waste a great deal of time restructuring institutions. What is required is joined-up thinking on policy. In the context of the process relating to Action Plan for Jobs, we are trying to ensure that everyone is on the same wavelength rather than engaging in a huge structural reorganisation. I am aware of some organisations which spent 12 months trying to reorganise themselves and decide who has responsibility for what. In such circumstances too much effort goes into the process of merging responsibilities or whatever rather than on developing a clear policy. That is not to say that structural change is not necessary because at times it is necessary. However, one should look first at policy integration and whether it is possible to develop a policy which encourages joined-up thinking across Departments. It can be awkward at times because three different Ministers must speak in respect of different parts of the brief. It is possible, however, to defend training being placed within the education remit, particularly as it is about standards, progression, etc.
Once it is open to sufficient influence and connection into the world of real employment, that is a good model and that is what must be built. The challenge for SOLAS and the Department of Education and Skills is to build that connection. We are also working to try to help build it. In a time of crisis, one works as best one can with the structures on already has in place in order to deliver. Some structural changes have had to be made. The difficulties with FÁS, which has been replaced by SOLAS, were inherited from the previous Government. The change that has occurred has been worthwhile because FÁS, as it was constituted, was not working. We have brought the employment placement service within the remit of the Department of Social Protection and a much more developmental model - which can be improved on over time - is being used. We need to build a bridge with the Department of Education and Skills in order to strengthen the position. We have already done this in certain areas. For example, a good model is in place in the area of ICT and the two Departments work well together as a result. As more skills opportunities emerge in the economy, we will have to ensure that SOLAS and MOMENTUM become better integrated in the context of employment needs. There is a challenge for both Departments in this regard. I apologise for the long-winded reply.
A good deal has been written about the skills shortages in recent times. Multinationals are flagging that the biggest challenge facing them is finding a sufficient number of skilled employees in the country. Does the Minister consider that the new structures being put place are adequate to address those shortages? The figures announced today are welcome and the fact that 58,000 more people have been in employment in the past 12 months is significant. Is the Minister optimistic that employment will be as strong in 2014? I would support the concept of strengthening and developing manufacturing much more than we have done, particularly in encouraging small businesses and industries in the more peripheral regions of the country.
We very much welcome the fact that a number of multinationals are creating significant levels of employment here but the problem in towns like Ballinasloe, from where I come and where there was a good deal of labour-intensive manufacturing, is that 1,000 industrial jobs have been lost during the past decade. The Minister mentioned apprenticeships and many fine apprentices were trained in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s to support that level of manufacturing. As labour costs increased here many companies that were located in the west relocated to lower cost economies. We face the challenge of replacing some of those jobs and that will be only done through small indigenous companies providing services and small manufacturing-type operations. Is the Minister satisfied that the structures we have in place will help bridge those skill shortages? We have had many meetings with representatives of the hospitality industry in recent times and they have spoken about significant skill shortages, particularly a shortage of chefs. Will we be able to meet the demand that exists with the new structures that are being put in place?
The structures are as good as can be designed. FÁS training is being integrated with the VECs and we will have a good capacity to deliver training. The issue is to make sure that delivery is to a standard and meets the needs of employers. The challenge for SOLAS is to build those quality interventions that move people into the areas of opportunity. The Senator is right is pointing out that the areas of opportunity are changing. We cannot provide training for skills that are not in growth areas.
Manufacturing is not to be written off by any means. The food sector is thriving in terms of growth and it is very strong. The Irish whiskey sector is also thriving. The medical devices sector is a strength in our economy, as is the pharmaceutical sector. There are many strong manufacturing sectors, including engineering, across the country. One has to be smart to survive and there are some excellent companies that are growing to scale. Combilift is one of them and I could name dozens but there is no point in naming only some of them; they are doing well from rural bases and they are adapting skills and delivering a quality product at a price point that people will buy.
We would write off manufacturing at our peril. It is one area that we need to develop and one of the plans we have for the coming years is to try to lift the capacity of our manufacturing sectors which, as the Senator rightly said, have a skill spread. He is also right in saying that start-up is key. We are reviewing entrepreneurship policy and we want to promote start-ups. Two thirds of all new jobs come from companies in the first five years of their existence. Therefore, we want to try to build a better start-up environment. Start-ups took a big hit in the collapse but those companies are resilient and that is the area we can develop. It has mixed skills requirements. The Deputy is right in saying that skills shortages are a challenge but it is also fair to say that the Department of Education and Skills is doubling its output of ICT graduates. It planned to do so by 2018 but I understand it will beat that target and it will be delivered before 2018. The institutions we have are delivering but the more one does and the more one bangs the door for more to be done, the better.
I would say it will be across the areas that they recommended previously. It would include active labour market policy, which is very much the area in which the Minister, Deputy Joan Burton, is actively involved, which covers the matters we have been discussing, those of education, training and traineeships. I doubt that wage setting mechanisms will be an issue for us as we have reformed them and we are continuing to introduce change. In terms of research and development and innovation, sweating the assets as best we can and creating a good environment for commercialisation, we have been working in that area. Another area is access to finance, as Deputy Calleary said. There will be familiar themes in the country-specific recommendations, there will not be some startling new areas. It is a question of pushing on and getting new initiatives embedded.