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20 February 2015
The Good Friday Agreement

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New economic development strategy
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Image of the logo for Strategy 2010, the economic development strategy for Northern Ireland
Strategy 2010, the economic development strategy for Northern Ireland

In the Good Friday Agreement, the British government gave a commitment to "make rapid progress with" a new economic development strategy for Northern Ireland "which would provide for short and medium term economic planning linked as appropriate to the regional development strategy". Northern Ireland is no stranger to economic policy documents; Strategy 2010 is the 11th such report since 1957. But unlike the previous reports Strategy 2010 does break new ground in elevating the social dimension of economic progress, both in terms of mobilising the contribution of all stakeholders and in ensuring that no social group is marginalized and left behind in the new economy.

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Key Academic Opinions
Nothing new under the sun
The Economic Development Strategy Review Steering Group produced Strategy 2010: A Draft Economic Policy Review, which was launched in March 1999 by the Minister for the Economy, Adam Ingram. Strategy 2010 had a mixed reception from politicians, business people and trades unions. Its vision statement of an economy that sought to bring about "a fast growing, competitive, knowledge-based economy where there are plentiful opportunities and a population equipped to grasp them" was considered a laudable aspiration. Gaffikin and Morrissey have raised questions about the precision and appropriateness of the targets, and the extent to which they are under-pinned by a suitably sophisticated analysis of the structural weaknesses and potential of the regional economy. More generally, there is concern as to whether the Review document's ten targets and 62 recommendations can be met.  
Key Academic Opinions
Regional development, an integrated approach?
In his foreword the Minister emphasises that the document "is for discussion and debate" because "real and effective long-term change cannot be achieved without the widespread involvement of the wider community". The Northern Ireland Economic Council set up by the Secretary of State in 1977 to provide independent advice on economic development produced A Step-Change in Economic Performance? A Response to Strategy 2010. While the Council welcomed the vision of an innovative and knowledge-based economy it criticised Strategy 2010 for being "weak and ad hoc" and called for public consultation before implementation. The Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin said it was "built on poor or non-existent analysis and delivers a vague and unfocused set of recommendations".
Key Academic Opinions
A critique of Strategy 2010
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