A groundbreaking blueprint for an all-island economy was unveiled today by the British and Irish governments.
A host of concrete initiatives to strengthen the economy with North and South co-operation have been flagged up.
Pooling together resources in overseas trade promotion, mixing the right skills to support sustained growth, greater collaboration in research and development, and developing a world class infrastructure have been earmarked to benefit cross-border economic activity.
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, and Northern Secretary Peter Hain believe the co-ordinated policies can and will deliver benefits to citizens and businesses both North and South.
The move focuses on increasing co-operation in infrastructure, science, technology and innovation, trade and investment promotion, labour market and skills and enterprise and business development.
Mr Ahern said the important study makes clear the strong economic imperative driving North/South co-operation.
“To be globally competitive we must exploit the opportunities of all-island collaboration,” he said.
“To make the knowledge economy a reality in Ireland North and South, the opportunities of cross-border co-operation in R&D should be eagerly grasped.”
The two governments, along with business representatives, trade unions and other key stakeholders, will now jointly develop a detailed programme of work in each of the areas identified, as well as seeking further opportunities for co-operation in the education and health sectors.
Both ministers said they are looking forward to forming an important part of the work of the restored institutions.
Mr Ahern said: “In the area of infrastructure, more joined up planning and delivery will give better outcomes for people throughout the island.
“A coherent transport infrastructure is vital to support the development of areas which have historically enjoyed less economic success including the border counties and the North West.”
MR Hain welcomed the key outcomes from the study.
“It sets out a compelling vision of a strong competitive and socially inclusive island economy with island wide clusters whose strength and development is not impaired by the existence of a political border,” he said.
“This must be our aim if we are to move forward and deliver sustained economic benefits for everyone. I look forward to further development and implementation of the goals and actions contained in the study both in the weeks to come and as part of the agenda of the restored institutions.”