independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Draghi says he will not 'print money' to ease Ireland's burden

EUROPEAN Central Bank president Mario Draghi was the latest European leader to pour cold water on Ireland's hopes of some sort of deal on the country's debts.

Mr Draghi told the European parliament yesterday that the ECB would not "print money" to ease the burden.

Speaking at the European parliament in Brussels, Mr Draghi said it was "too easy" to think that the ECB can replace governments' action or lack of it.

"This is true for Ireland, it's also true for every other case in this," he said.

"The ECB is co-operating with the Irish Government in trying to find a solution, but we have to keep in mind that each of us have our own responsibilities," he added.

Speaking in Luxembourg, Finance Minister Michael Noonan put a brave face and insisted that there was "nothing new" in those comments and said they didn't change Ireland's position.

"We know what the position is and we are negotiating against the background of that," Mr Noonan said. "There is plenty of room for negotiation without getting into monetary financing. These are complex talks but there is nothing new in what Mr Draghi said."

It was another blow for Mr Noonan in as many days. On Tuesday, European finance ministers gave the official go-ahead to the European Stability Mechanism without deciding whether it could be used to pay for debts related to Ireland and Spain's bank bailout.

In another sign that Ireland is not the only bailout country to struggle, Portugal was yesterday granted another year to reach its fiscal targets, with its deficit targets now revised to 5pc of gross domestic product this year, 4.5pc in 2013 and 2.5pc a year later.

Elsewhere, yesterday's two-day meeting closed with a distinct lack of progress among finance ministers on other pressing issues facing the eurozone, including whether and when to provide a rescue package for Spain, and what to do about Greece's off-course programme.

Ministers insisted Spain was taking the right actions to restore its public finances and did not need a bailout for now, even though many in the financial markets are convinced Madrid will need help within weeks rather than months.

The International Monetary Fund doused several eurozone countries' budget plans, including those of Spain and France, by revising down its 2013 growth forecasts for their economies.

Eurozone peers told Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos that his country's budget cuts should take into account the weakness in the economy as regional policymakers debated whether to let Madrid slacken the pace of its austerity drive.

Irish Independent

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