Press release

31 May 2022 Dublin, IE

Dublin fourth most attractive European city to investors; Ireland maintains top 10 European location for FDI

Dublin, 31 May 2022: The EY European Attractiveness Survey 2022, published today, reports that Ireland remains one of Europe’s top 10 locations for FDI with a market share of 3% of all FDI among European countries, after it’s reported to have attracted 152 new FDI investment projects in 2021.

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  • Ireland remains one of Europe’s top 10 locations for FDI, with a market share of 3%
  • Ireland is a favoured location for corporate headquarters and global business services

Dublin, 31 May 2022: The EY European Attractiveness Survey 2022, published today, reports that Ireland remains one of Europe’s top 10 locations for FDI with a market share of 3% of all FDI among European countries, after it’s reported to have attracted 152 new FDI investment projects in 2021.

Dublin was chosen by 17% of respondents as most attractive European city for foreign investors over the next three years, three times higher than last year, placing the capital 4th on the league table of the most attractive European cities.

The report finds that foreign investment in Europe in 2021 showed a modest recovery of 5% compared to 2020, a year in which COVID-19 caused investment levels to drop by 13%. The recovery in 2021 was also mixed, with relatively stronger performance in some southern European countries.

Investment levels in Europe are still 12% below the record high of 2017, and the recovery is slower than after the global financial crisis, when investment levels returned to pre-crisis levels after only one year. France led the way in 2021 with 1,222 projects, up strongly by 24%. Investment in the UK remained steady, increasing by 2% to 993 projects. In stark contrast, the number of projects in Germany fell 10% to 841.

With growing global complexity and turbulence, EY’s report aims to examine if this backdrop has changed how businesses make decisions about where facilities are located and if Europe is still competitive. Although businesses are more cautious in their investment outlook due to the war in Ukraine, they are still positive on the long-term prospects for investment in Europe.

EY’s analysis demonstrates that the number of FDI projects in Ireland fell by 8% in 2021 as a result of the overall fall in US investment projects to Europe and a reduction in software and IT services investments during 2021. The survey found that investor sentiment towards Ireland remains very positive, with a strong majority believing Ireland's attractiveness will either improve or remain the same over next three years.

Ireland’s positive reputation is also reflected in investment intentions, with 43% of respondents planning to establish or expand operations in Ireland in the next year. The US accounted for 59% of Ireland’s FDI projects during 2021, while the UK remains a significant source of Irish FDI and accounted for 19%.

Commenting on the data, Feargal de Freine, Assurance Partner and Head of FDI, EY Ireland, said, “In terms of industry, Ireland’s FDI projects are dominated by the services sector with software and IT leading the way, followed by business and professional services, and finance. There was a strong performance recorded in Ireland, despite global disruptions. After a sharp decline in 2020, Ireland’s projects in business and professional services grew by 13%, outperforming Europe where sector projects fell by 16% in 2021. Importantly, the high-value life sciences sector (pharmaceuticals and medical devices) also saw in increase in projects in 2021.

“The future is digital. Businesses have made huge investments in technology since the onset of the pandemic to facilitate remote working, automation and e-commerce. The increased digitalisation of services and industry explains why the level of technology adoption by consumers, citizens and administrations is now the most important factor that determines where businesses invest across Europe.”

Policy Focus

Based on the survey results, policy-makers should focus on work force skills, housing, and global connectivity to address the concerns of global investors. During a period of increased supply chain disruption and a trend towards near-shoring and reshoring, global connectivity has never been more important.

Sustainability

Ireland is viewed exceptionally positively by global investors on sustainability. 88% of those surveyed said Ireland performs as well as, or better than, the European average for the presence of workforce and skills to facilitate sustainability projects, which provides a strong reputational base from which to attract future investment.

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About the survey

EY attractiveness surveys analyses the attractiveness of a particular region or country as an investment destination. The surveys are designed to help businesses make investment decisions and governments remove barriers to growth. A two-step methodology analyses both the reality and perception of FDI in the country or region.

The evaluation of the reality of FDI in Europe is based on the EY European Investment Monitor (EIM), the EY proprietary database produced in collaboration with OCO. This database tracks the FDI projects that have resulted in the creation of new facilities and jobs. By excluding portfolio investments and mergers and acquisitions (M&A), it shows the reality of investment in manufacturing and services by foreign companies across the continent. Data on FDI is widely available.

An investment in a company is normally included in FDI data if the foreign investor acquires more than 10% of the company’s equity and takes a role in its management. FDI includes equity capital, reinvested earnings and intracompany loans. To confirm the accuracy of the data collected, the research teams aim to directly contact more than 70% of the companies undertaking these investments.

We define the attractiveness of a location as a combination of image, investor confidence, and the perception of a country’s or area’s ability to provide the most competitive benefits for FDI. The field research was conducted by Euromoney between February and April 2022 via online surveys, based on a representative panel of 501 international decision-makers.

For more key insights about European Attractiveness Survey, visit ey.com/ie/FDI.