Bill to implement screening of foreign direct investment

The government has agreed to draft legislation which will give effect to an EU regulation on screening 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.

Tánaiste and Enterprise, Trade and Employment Minister Leo Varadkar 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.”

Under the proposed legislation, the minister for enterprise, trade and employment will be able to respond to threats to Ireland’s security and public order, and prevent or mitigate such threats.

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has already conducted and published the results of a consultation on this regulation. 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.