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Finance Minister seeks Germany's support for increased spending under EU rules

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9th March 2015 - Brussels, Belgium - Pictured at the Eurogroup meeting of EU euro zone finance ministers were, left to right,
Finance Minister Michael Noonan with Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs.
Photo by Peter Cavanagh Photography [Must Credit]

9th March 2015 - Brussels, Belgium - Pictured at the Eurogroup meeting of EU euro zone finance ministers were, left to right, Finance Minister Michael Noonan with Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs. Photo by Peter Cavanagh Photography [Must Credit]

Credit Photo: Peter Cavanagh

9th March 2015 - Brussels, Belgium - Pictured at the Eurogroup meeting of EU euro zone finance ministers were, left to right, Finance Minister Michael Noonan with Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs. Photo by Peter Cavanagh Photography [Must Credit]

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has courted the support of Germany as part of a campaign to be allowed to spend more under EU budgetary rules.

The Government wants the rules on how much Ireland can spend on investment to be softened ahead of the Budget later this year, given the faster than expected growth in the economy.

The minister said he had used the fact that more flexibility had been given to France over its deficit to call for flexibility in the rules on investment spending for Ireland.

But he stressed the Government supported France's call for leniency, and had no issue with what had been granted to the Eurozone's second biggest economy.

''So the relevance of it is, is to give me budgetary space to make decisions for the 2016 Budget that I'd be introducing in October,'' Mr Noonan said in Brussels.

''Whether I use the space or not is not the issue. It's simply to give me the space so that I'm not inhibited by European rules to spend money that I think is necessary. The way the tax take is going and the way the growth figures is going, we'll have money. We'll still be able to bring the deficit down again next year, significantly. Probably the deficit in the next Budget will be beginning with a one.

''It's not that we're looking to unwind anything that we've done. It's purely to give me the space so that I can prepare the budget in a way that I think is best for the economy. That I am not inhibited by an inappropriate application of Euro rules."

Mr Noonan said he had spoken to German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble about it, and ''he got the point immediately.''

Mr Noonan said he didn't want to take away from the concession that France had been given.

''But I am saying, if you're giving discretion to six or seven countries including France, we want discretion as well,'' Mr Noonan said.

''But our discretion is in the application of the rules so that we don't get a nonsensical result.''

The minister said he has asked the Commission to instruct its officials to look at it in conjunction with Irish officials.

He also said that a briefing paper had been presented by Ireland on the issue.

''I don't want to break rules. I want to be reach an agreement. It's not a huge political issue. But it would be incorrect to say that I opposed what France is getting.''

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