The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar T.D. has today announced that the government has agreed to draft legislation which will give effect to a European Union regulation to screen foreign direct investment coming into Ireland.
The Investment Screening Bill 2020 will give full effect to EU Regulation 2019/452, which allows all member states to have a mechanism in place to screen foreign investment for any risks it may pose to security or public order in the host member state.
The Tánaiste said,
“I see Ireland as an island in the centre of the world. We have a strong reputation as a welcoming home for Foreign Direct Investment and that will continue over the lifetime of this Government. Foreign investment will be crucial as we seek to repair the economic damage wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“However, while we welcome investment, it is important to be on our guard against forces that threaten our security and strategic assets falling into the hands of unfriendly foreign governments. This legislation will provide for EU countries and the Commission to share information and raise concerns about a company seeking to invest in a country, when doing so would pose a risk to state security or public safety.
“It is important that the structures put in place in accordance with this regulation are proportionate and tailored to ensure they meet that objective, while ensuring Ireland that maintains its position as a small, open economy, that is very welcoming of investment from abroad’
Once enacted, the Investment Screening Bill 2020 will empower the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to respond to threats to Ireland’s security and public order posed by particular types of foreign investment, and to prevent or mitigate such threats. Under the proposed legislation, the Minister will be able to assess, investigate, authorise, condition, prohibit or unwind foreign investments from outside of the EU, based on a range of security and public order criteria. At present, no such investment screening mechanism exists in Ireland.
The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has already conducted and published the results of a consultation on this regulation: Investment Screening consultation and submissions received. This consultation informed the development of the General Scheme of the Bill which will now be sent forward for consideration for pre-legislative scrutiny by the Oireachtas in the Autumn.