Business Irish

Friday 20 September 2019

EU more worried about Spain than us -- Noonan


Finance Minister Michael Noonan. Photo: Frank McGrath
Finance Minister Michael Noonan. Photo: Frank McGrath

Brendan Keenan

EUROPEAN leaders believe they can avoid a debt crisis in Ireland and Portugal, but are concerned that Greece could trigger problems in larger economies such as Spain, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said yesterday.

His comments came as billionaire investor George Soros said the departure of Greece from the euro was "inevitable."

"The European authorities are more worried about countries like Spain than they are about Ireland and Portugal," Mr Noonan said on RTE radio.

"The authorities I have spoken to believe they can prevent contagion spreading to Ireland and Portugal but they have some concerns about the bigger European countries, and they are going to draw the line there.

"I presume they will bring other policy instruments forward as necessary."

Earlier, Mr Soros said it's "probably inevitable" that a mechanism will have to be put in place to allow weaker eurozone economies to exit the single currency.

"We are on the verge of an economic collapse which starts, let's say, in Greece, but it could easily spread," Mr Soros said at a discussion in Vienna on whether liberal democracy is at risk in Europe.

"I think most of us actually agree that (Europe's crisis) is actually centred around the euro.'' He added: "The authorities are actually engaged in buying time. And yet time is working against them."

European leaders have vowed to stave off a Greek default provided Prime Minister George Papandreou pushes through his €78bn reforms package. (additional reporting by Bloomberg).

Irish Independent

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