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Open thread: What are the best things Ireland has gotten out of being in the EU? And the worst?

SINCE JOINING THE European Union in 1973, then called the European Economic Community, Ireland has undergone massive changes.

The country’s economic transformation over the past few decades has been attributed, in part, to its EU membership, which brought advantages such as freedom of movement, work and study. 

“Almost every aspect of Irish life has improved [by being in the EU], from how we work, travel and shop to the quality of our environment, our opportunities for learning and the way our businesses buy and sell their goods and services,” according to the European Commission. 

Following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, there were some minority voices calling for an ‘Irexit’, arguing that Ireland would be better off out than in. It gained little traction, however; a recent European Movement Ireland/Red C poll found that 88% of people believe Ireland should remain in the EU. 

Ireland has been a net contributor to the EU since 2013, meaning it pays more than it receives from the union.

In fact, Ireland is per capita the second-largest contributor with the average Irish person contributing €539 to the EU each year, more than double the average of €239, according to a report from the Department of Finance on Ireland’s transactions with the EU. (In real terms, it’s slightly different: in 2018, Germany, France, Italy, the UK and Spain accounted for 68% of the EU’s budget while Ireland’s contribution of €2.6 billion was the twelfth-largest). 

However, Ireland has also been allocated up to €13.3 billion between 2021 and 2027 to help with the state’s transition to being a low carbon economy. Ireland also has to enact rules set out by the EU to protect natural habitats and act on water and air pollution.

More recently, the EU has imposed six rounds of sanctions on Russia to date in response to the invasion of Ukraine, including the recent ban on more than two-thirds of Russian oil.  

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We want to hear from you. What advantages and disadvantages have there been for Ireland in being a member of the EU? 

Do you think Ireland’s membership of the EU has transformed our economy? Perhaps you think we give more than we receive? Or maybe you think that EU laws have transformed the lives of the average Irish person? Let us know in the comments. 

This work is co-funded by Journal Media and a grant programme from the European Parliament. Any opinions or conclusions expressed in this work are the author’s own. The European Parliament has no involvement in nor responsibility for the editorial content published by the project. For more information, see here