Business Irish

Thursday 19 April 2018

Lenihan to consider plan for EU oversight

Sarah Collins

FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan has said he will look closely at a mooted plan to give eurozone countries a greater say in how Ireland's economy is run.

The EU's economics chief, Olli Rehn, announced yesterday that he would come out with a scheme to “reinforce economic policy co-ordination and countersurveillance” before June, based on new powers under the Lisbon Treaty.

It would give countries in the 16-member eurozone the power to beef up budgetary oversight and issue policy guidelines to other states.

“It's an interesting proposal,” said Mr Lenihan, after meeting with his EU counterparts in Brussels, “one which we would examine in a constructive spirit.

“In general, I don't have a problem with that, but clearly the detail would have to be worked through.”

He said he didn't “see the danger” in giving the European Commission the power to point out where Ireland was going wrong, especially on wage inflation.

The move comes on the back of worries over Greece, which was told yesterday it would have to convince its citizens that swingeing budget cuts were necessary.

The EU is giving it until March 16 to prove it is making the cuts.

Mr Lenihan said: “Clearly, if there has to be a bailout for Greece, everybody else, including Ireland, pays.”

Meanwhile, Mr Lenihan said he would not back down in the face of threats from public-sector unions at home, who have threatened “Armageddon” in response to pay cuts imposed in December’s Budget.

“We don't have the money. That's the position. There's no question of a rowback.”

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