In this interview, Michael Murphy, Member of the Tipperary County Council and Chair of the ECON Commission, answers a few questions related to the concerns of local communities and SME’s affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are the biggest issues caused by COVID-19 for your policy field?
The health crisis quickly turned into an economic crisis. Lock downs brought big parts of our economies to a standstill. Global value chains broke down, single market weakened and debt rising. Now we need to kick-start the recovery by handing the baton to new heroes. We need to act swiftly while keeping our longer-term priorities of competitive and sustainable economic development.
Do you foresee any long-term consequences?
This crisis has shown that globalisation and open borders must go hand in hand with preparedness and strategic autonomy. At the local level, we see that some businesses simply won’t survive and some sectors will be permanently affected. They need support, including public funds, which will then raise debt questions that will also be with us for a long time.
Are there any unexpected positive impacts of the situation?
I think this crisis has put many things into question, and forced us to think hard about what kind of economy and society we want, and how to get there. I am convinced that the recovery is a golden opportunity to jump start the green and digital transitions. We see the importance of local value chains, buying local and independent SMEs.
What is now the way forward?
What seems clear is that the EU’s added value is clear in addressing this unprecedented global crisis. The European Commission’s proposals for the recovery go in the right direction. Our role will now be to ensure that the EU’s actions bring concrete answers to the concerns of local communities, SMEs and entrepreneurs, all across Europe’s regions, cities and villages.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Let’s not forget that coronavirus is not the only threat to our local economies. As ECON Chair and an Irish County Councillor, the prospect of a no deal economic Brexit is a real worry. The uncertainty is harmful for business investment and confidence. We need to ensure that future relations with the UK work for our businesses and our communities.