Sunday 28 December 2014

Coalition to use EU presidency to push for debt deal

Fionnan Sheahan and Ed Carty

Published 18/12/2012 | 05:00

THE Government is going to use Ireland's EU Presidency to push for a deal on bank debt.

And in keeping with the belt-tightening theme, to keep down the costs of the six-month presidency, tap water will be used at meetings rather than bottled water.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said Ireland's term in the chair will be focused on bringing stability to the euro area. He said moving on from an agreement to break the link between state debt and bank debt was a priority for Ireland and the EU.

"Last June we all agreed that we need to break the link between banks and sovereigns. And last week we achieved a major step forward, with agreement on the single supervisory mechanism," he said.

"The Irish presidency will build on this momentum toward banking union, working on deposit guarantee schemes and bank resolution and recovery. This will be key to moving to the next phase: allowing the European Stability Mechanism to directly recapitalise banks.

"It is imperative that we move ahead as quickly as possible with this."

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, meanwhile, said he stood by his claim that the Government definitely would not pay the next instalment of Anglo Irish Bank debt.

"I am satisfied we won't have to pay the €3.1bn in March. I haven't changed my view on that and every single member around the cabinet table is committed to delivering the same result," he said.

Mr Rabbitte received a rebuke from Finance Minister Michael Noonan last week and his definitive statement has not been backed up by the Taoiseach, Tanaiste or Public Spending Minister Brendan Howlin. He said any exchanges between him and Mr Noonan were always civilised. "Nobody snarled at anybody and we both are committed to the same objective," he said.

Mr Gilmore and European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton were in Brussels yesterday to speak about the changeover to the Irish presidency in the new year.

Realism

Mr Gilmore said the motto for the six months would be "stability, jobs and growth".

"The Irish presidency will be one of realism but also of optimism. For us the glass is half-full and not half empty," he said.

"Responding effectively to the financial and economic crisis remains a central concern for the European Union. The attention must now focus on the challenge of getting the European economy back on track by improving the EU's global competitiveness, promoting economic growth and creating jobs."

The Government also launched the presidency's dedicated website, www.eu2013.ie, as Mr Gilmore outlined its focus. Ireland takes over from Cyprus on January 1 for six months.

Irish Independent

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