Sunday 19 February 2017

European Commissioner warns it would be premature to declare 'mission accomplished' in Ireland

Published 26/05/2015 | 11:53

European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici
European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici

The recovery in Ireland shouldn't lead to complacency as risks from high public and private debt remain, European Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici has warned.

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In a speech in Dublin this morning, Mr Moscovici said it would be premature to declare "mission accomplished". And he signalled the Government should remain prudent and cautious despite the strong economic data.

"In spite of the undeniable and remarkable progress made so far, important challenges remain concerning public finances, the financial sector and structural reforms," the Commissioner said.

"Some people may think that those challenges are merely legacy issues, shadows from the past. However, it would be wrong and risky to ignore the legacies of the crisis, notably the high private and public debt."

Mr Moscovici told the event in central Dublin organised by the Institute for International and European Affairs (IIEA) that the legacy issues make Ireland vulnerable to external shocks.

"The ongoing brisk economic recovery provides an ideal opportunity to complete the adjustment process," he said.

"My view is that when tailwinds are more favourable, it is the time to go on with reform."

While praising Ireland's "remarkable" economic rebound, the Commissioner said not everyone is yet feeling the recovery.

"Although the unemployment rate dropped from more than 15pc in 2011 and 2012 to about 10pc currently, too may people remain unemployed or live in precarious conditions, or bear the burden of high debts," he said.

"The positive developments of late should therefore not lead to a sense of complacency."

On Greece, Mr Moscovici said progress had been made in the last fortnight on the talks, with some proposals on reform that are solid.

But he added: "We need more effort in order to reach a comprehensive agreement on a set of reforms which are necessary to enhance the Greek economy's competitiveness," he said.

"The Commission has just one plan. There is no plan B. There is the plan which is for Greece remaining in the Eurozone."

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