Business Irish

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Noonan wants 'clarity' from new French president

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan last night called on French President-elect Francois Hollande to clarify what growth measures he wants added to the fiscal compact treaty.

Mr Noonan said the Government was concerned the uncertainty surrounding any additions or tweaks to the treaty was affecting the referendum campaign here.

Mr Hollande has called for greater growth measures to be included with the fiscal treaty, but German chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday said the treaty would not be reopened.

During the French presidential election campaign, Mr Hollande said the treaty, as is, would not be ratified, but it is so far unclear if or how he will follow through on that.

It led No campaigners here to claim that it is pointless passing the treaty if it is going to be changed.

Mr Noonan made his comments yesterday at a question and answer session in Warsaw, Poland, where he is on an economic trip.

Concerned

"It would help us . . . if Mr Hollande would soon clarify what he would like to add to the treaty," he said.

"We are concerned about this in Ireland where we are in the middle of the referendum campaign. It doesn't sit so well with us (talk of changes to the treaty). But I am not sure it's about rejection of austerity in France."

Mr Noonan's spokesman later said they believed the treaty would not be changed, but there could be an addendum or other additional agreement.

Meanwhile, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said Mr Hollande's election could mark a "turning point" away from austerity only and towards promoting economic growth in Europe.

But Ms Burton also insists Mr Hollande's election does not change anything being put to the people in the fiscal compact referendum.

She said Mr Hollande "wants a growth and investment pact" but had also emphasised the "need for a financial stability, financial structures that are solid and sound".

She said calls for a growth pact would not change the treaty being voted on at the end of the month, and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has also insisted the referendum cannot be deferred.

Irish Independent

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