Intel Ireland recently announced that the company is to campaign in support of the Lisbon Treaty. Launching the campaign in the Science Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin, Mr. Jim OHara, General Manager, Intel Ireland and Vice President, Technology Manufacturing Group, said that for him this was a matter of personal conviction and corporate social responsibility. “Last year, like many others, I stood back and did not speak up on this crucial issue for the country. I was convinced, to be honest, that a Yes vote was a foregone conclusion. I was wrong. This time, Intel Corporation is supporting the Irish management in their belief that it is important for the country, and for businesses within the country, that Ireland remains a player at the heart of Europe and as a matter of corporate social responsibility that we have a duty to speak up.”
Mr. OHara said that while Ireland as a sovereign nation has the right to say Yes or No, the stakes were high and the voice of business and in particular the multinational companies based in this country should be clearly and visibly put in the public domain. Intel believes that a Yes vote would send unambiguous signals to its EU partners, and to global investors, that Ireland wants to remain strongly connected to the European Union. “I know how large corporations think. If for the third time in less than ten years we reject an EU Treaty, we must realise that this will create uncertainty in the minds of investors worldwide who are looking at Ireland as a gateway for greenfield investment into the EU”.
Explaining the business argument in favour of the Treaty, the Intel Ireland General Manager, emphasised the strong link between Ireland’s EU membership and the level of inward Foreign Direct Investment. Mr. OHara pointed out; “Since Ireland voted to support the single European market, foreign direct investment has grown immensely. Ireland has become the preferred destination for inward investment into Europe. This has happened for many reasons – English speaking, well-educated workforce, low corporate tax rate, competitive incentives and business friendly Government policies. Most importantly it has happened because of Ireland’s connectedness to Europe, free access to vast EU markets, and our ability to punch above our weight in influencing European affairs based on a solid reputation as a committed team player”.
Ireland’s central role within the EU is an important consideration in US Multinationals’ investment decisions. Over 300,000 jobs are directly and indirectly linked to US multinationals in Ireland. The total value of investments by US companies in Ireland is $87 Billion and over the course of Intel’s 20 years in Ireland, $7 billion of that total has been invested by Intel in this country. Remarkably, Ireland as a small country in the EU has more inward foreign direct investment from the United States than all US company investments in Brazil, Russia, India and China combined.
Mr. OHara acknowledged that it is unusual for a multinational company to participate this visibly in a public campaign. “As one of the biggest employers and one of the longest standing investors in this country, Intel often engages in discussions on topics of national importance and of importance to the competitiveness of industry. We have actively engaged with Government, service providers and business partners to keep Ireland competitive in areas of key strategic importance such as education, tax and incentives and the cost of doing business here”.
Mr. OHara clarified that; “Those discussions generally happen in private. However, for this, most important of issues, the decision on the connectedness of Ireland to heart of the EU lies with the Irish people. Research that we undertook showed that the voice of multinational companies here was not heard last time, and therefore people may have felt that it didn’t matter to business whether we remained strongly connected to Europe. I am here today to tell you that it matters very much to us. We are convinced that for future growth and innovation Ireland needs to stay fully connected to Europe”.
Intel, the world leader in silicon innovation, develops technologies, products and initiatives to continually advance how people work and live. Additional information about Intel is available at www.intel.com/pressroom. Additional information about Intel’s business perspective on the Lisbon Treaty is available at www.intel.ie/lisbon.