Technology to be shared with EU accession states

23 Feb 2004

A number of Irish Government bodies are working with a number of EU accession states to share technology and systems that will help make the countries’ entry into the EU as seamless as possible, has learned.

According to sources close to the Government, a number of departments are taking the initiative to share technology and management systems with various countries, in particular Poland, Estonia and Cyprus.

Leading the pack is the Department of Agriculture, which is helping their Polish counterparts to upgrade their technologies and systems to cope with the distribution of Area Aid amongst the farming community in Poland. Among the technologies being shared with Poland is the geographic information system (GIS) developed by Dublin firm E-spatial and Oracle that enables the Department to calculate and distribute Area Aid to farmers using advanced mapping and database technologies.

It is also understood that the Revenue Commissioners are working with a number of accession states to help them emulate tax gathering and management technologies, such as the successful Revenue On-line system.

“All accession countries are finding it hard to comply with the rules and regulations imposed by Brussels”, the source said. “Ireland has had 20 years to get it right, these countries have only five years to get it right and need our assistance.”

While the after-affects of post-boom Ireland become obvious to all, many people in the Irish economy fear that the arrival of the 10 new countries into the EU in May could have adverse affects on the country, especially in terms of the availability of young, educated and low-cost workforces that are reminiscent of a pre-Celtic Tiger economy a decade ago.

However, within certain Government departments the view is that the arrival of these countries is in fact an opportunity rather than a threat in terms of both skilled workers and future rewards. “It’s a huge opportunity, a goodwill opportunity. There is no doubt that these countries will do their best to make the most of their membership of the European Union. Forward thinking civil servants and politicians have decided that working with the accession states will result in favours that Ireland can call back in the future. Many government workers regard this as an opportunity to invest in Ireland’s future.”

Despite fears for the future of Ireland’s economy after the arrival of the accession countries into the EU, ironically it is Ireland that many of the countries are looking to emulate as an example of a country that turned membership of the EU to its economic advantage.

According to an article published last week in the International Herald Tribune government leaders in European states such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary are taking lesson’s from Ireland’s example.

“Ireland is the shining example,” said Justas Paleckis, Lithuania’s vice minister of foreign affairs and a former ambassador to Britain and Ireland. “We are sure we can do it as well.”

“We look to the Irish,” said Ojars Kalinins, director of the Latvian Institute, an economic think tank for that country. “They really learned how to make full benefit of membership of the EU.”

By John Kennedy