The latest overview of competitiveness for the 27 member states is here. Ireland gets a mixed review, with the Commission reporting:
Ireland has made good progress in achieving its adjustment programme’s goals. Despite the remaining challenges, these efforts have improved business prospects and strengthened competitiveness.
The challenge for Ireland is to improve the prospects of the domestic SMEs. The sector is held back by weak domestic demand, lack of innovation, problems with access to finance, and rising costs of doing business at local level. The government should continue to keep a close eye on access to finance, as improvement in this area is crucial for future growth. The lack of domestic demand and lack of finance have lowered the level of investment in equipment, which remains under the EU average.
The Irish government’s ‘Action Plan for Jobs 2012’ is a broad-based plan to address these challenges. If implemented steadfastly, it could considerably reduce the differences in the competitiveness of the domestic and multinational sectors. The challenge is to avoid the fragmentation of efforts, and to increase policy focus on the most promising initiatives enhancing innovation and growth.
They show the following graph for Ireland, which makes for interesting reading.