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Monday 23 January 2017

No Greek-style deal for 'on-track' plan Ireland

Sarah Collins in Brussels

Published 22/02/2012 | 05:00

At the European finance ministers meeting yesterday were (left) Minister of State for Finance Brian Hayes, deputising for Michael Noonan, and Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs
At the European finance ministers meeting yesterday were (left) Minister of State for Finance Brian Hayes, deputising for Michael Noonan, and Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs

THE EU's top economics official, Olli Rehn, ruled out Greek-style discounts for Irish debt, insisting that the Irish economy is bouncing back to health under the bailout programme.

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"Greece is a specific and unique case and will not be repeated in the case of other euro area countries," Mr Rehn said yesterday. "Besides, the Irish programme is on track. Despite facing difficulties and painful adjustments, Ireland is on the way to recovery."

The comments came as the Greek government races to complete a list of reforms demanded by finance ministers before the end the month to unlock the €130bn bail-out agreed early yesterday morning.

The Greek parliament must now pass anti-bribery laws and open up protected professions such as the law and medicine to competition within ten days if the country is to get the latest bailout.

News of the agreement sent yields on Irish and Portuguese bonds lower. European stocks fell from a six-month high amid speculation the latest bailout deal won't be enough to solve the debt crisis. National Bank of Greece, the largest Greek lender, plunged 9.5pc.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index closed down 0.5pc last night although it was still 24pc higher than it was last September at the height of the crisis.

In a blow to the Irish government's efforts to reduce the amount paid on our loans, Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg said his country probably won't follow euro-area countries in lowering the interest rate on loans to Ireland. Swedish taxpayers expect to be compensated close to market conditions, he told reporters in Brussels. Sweden has pledged to lend €600m to Ireland although the money has yet to be paid.

In Portugal there were increasing signs that the country may also seek changes to its bailout.

Opposition leaders, businesses and trade union leaders all want the government there to renegotiate the terms of Portugal's €78bn bail-out agreement following disturbances in some areas and painful austerity.

Junior Finance Minister Brian Hayes reiterated in Brussels yesterday that Ireland would not be seeking a similar deal to the Greek deal by burning bond holders.

"This is an issue for Greece in the first instance -- this is about Greece getting through the issues that they face and putting them on a sustainable debt path," Mr Hayes told reporters after the 13-hour meeting where he was standing in for Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

Mr Hayes said he was "hopeful" that talks on renegotiating the cost of the promissory notes to fund the wind-down of the former Anglo Irish Bank would be buoyed after the ECB's decision to get involved in the Greek bailout.

"Obviously we're hopeful. We will continue our dialogue with the ECB, the commission, the IMF and the troika," he said.

"There are a number of outstanding issues.

"We'll be working on the promissory notes, obviously, but we're not putting any specific timeline on it. I think that wouldn't be helpful at the time," he said.

The ECB and national central banks will send any profits on their Greek government bonds back to Athens.

Mr Hayes said the Irish Central Bank's holdings of Greek debt were "negligible, a small sum of money".

""Greece is a specific and unique case and will not be repeated in the case of other euro area countries," Mr Rehn said yesterday. "Besides, the Irish programme is on track. Despite facing difficulties and painful adjustments, Ireland is on the way to recovery."

The comments came as the Greek government races to complete a list of reforms demanded by finance ministers before the end the month to unlock the €130bn bail-out agreed early yesterday morning.

The Greek parliament must now pass anti-bribery laws and open up protected professions such as the law and medicine to competition within ten days if the country is to get the latest bailout.

News of the agreement sent yields on Irish and Portuguese bonds lower. European stocks fell from a six-month high amid speculation the latest bailout deal won't be enough to solve the debt crisis. National Bank of Greece, the largest Greek lender, plunged 9.5pc. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index closed down 0.5pc last night although it was still 24pc higher than it was last September at the height of the crisis.

In a blow to the Irish government's efforts to reduce the amount paid on our loans, Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg said his country probably won't follow euro-area countries in lowering the interest rate on loans to Ireland. Swedish taxpayers expect to be compensated close to market conditions, he told reporters in Brussels. Sweden has pledged to lend €600m to Ireland although the money has yet to be paid.

In Portugal there were increasing signs that the country may also seek changes to its bailout. Opposition leaders, businesses and trade union leaders all want the government there to renegotiate the terms of Portugal's €78bn bail-out agreement following disturbances in some areas and painful austerity.

Junior Finance Minister Brian Hayes reiterated in Brussels yesterday that Ireland would not be seeking a similar deal to the Greek deal by burning bond holders.

"This is an issue for Greece in the first instance -- this is about Greece getting through the issues that they face and putting them on a sustainable debt path," Mr Hayes told reporters after the 13-hour meeting where he was standing in for Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

Mr Hayes said he was "hopeful" that talks on renegotiating the cost of the promissory notes to fund the wind-down of the former Anglo Irish Bank would be buoyed after the ECB's decision to get involved in the Greek bailout. "Obviously we're hopeful. We will continue our dialogue with the ECB, the commission, the IMF and the troika," he said. "There are a number of outstanding issues.

"We'll be working on the promissory notes, obviously, but we're not putting any specific timeline on it. I think that wouldn't be helpful at the time," he said.

The ECB and national central banks will send any profits on their Greek government bonds back to Athens. Mr Hayes said the Irish Central Bank's holdings of Greek debt were "negligible, a small sum of money".

Greece is a specific and unique case and will not be repeated in the case of other euro area countries," Mr Rehn said yesterday. "Besides, the Irish programme is on track. Despite facing difficulties and painful adjustments, Ireland is on the way to recovery."

The comments came as the Greek government races to complete a list of reforms demanded by finance ministers before the end the month to unlock the €130bn bail-out agreed early yesterday morning.

The Greek parliament must now pass anti-bribery laws and open up protected professions such as the law and medicine to competition within ten days if the country is to get the latest bailout.

News of the agreement sent yields on Irish and Portuguese bonds lower. European stocks fell from a six-month high amid speculation the latest bailout deal won't be enough to solve the debt crisis. National Bank of Greece, the largest Greek lender, plunged 9.5pc. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index closed down 0.5pc last night although it was still 24pc higher than it was last September at the height of the crisis.

In a blow to the Irish government's efforts to reduce the amount paid on our loans, Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg said his country probably won't follow euro-area countries in lowering the interest rate on loans to Ireland. Swedish taxpayers expect to be compensated close to market conditions, he told reporters in Brussels. Sweden has pledged to lend €600m to Ireland although the money has yet to be paid.

In Portugal there were increasing signs that the country may also seek changes to its bailout. Opposition leaders, businesses and trade union leaders all want the government there to renegotiate the terms of Portugal's €78bn bail-out agreement following disturbances in some areas and painful austerity.

Junior Finance Minister Brian Hayes reiterated in Brussels yesterday that Ireland would not be seeking a similar deal to the Greek deal by burning bond holders.

"This is an issue for Greece in the first instance -- this is about Greece getting through the issues that they face and putting them on a sustainable debt path," Mr Hayes told reporters after the 13-hour meeting where he was standing in for Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

Mr Hayes said he was "hopeful" that talks on renegotiating the cost of the promissory notes to fund the wind-down of the former Anglo Irish Bank would be buoyed after the ECB's decision to get involved in the Greek bailout. "Obviously we're hopeful. We will continue our dialogue with the ECB, the commission, the IMF and the troika," he said. "There are a number of outstanding issues.

"We'll be working on the promissory notes, obviously, but we're not putting any specific timeline on it. I think that wouldn't be helpful at the time," he said.

The ECB and national central banks will send any profits on their Greek government bonds back to Athens. Mr Hayes said the Irish Central Bank's holdings of Greek debt were "negligible, a small sum of money".

Irish Independent

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