Tuesday 24 April 2018

EU finance chiefs to hold talks on extending the bailout fund

Sarah Collins in Brussels

EUROZONE finance ministers are to hold pivotal talks next week on if, when and how the bloc's stability fund should be activated to rescue Ireland.

Belgian finance minister Didier Reynders, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, told the Irish Independent yesterday that he hopes to get a "clear vision" on Ireland's position from Finance Minister Brian Lenihan at the meeting, to take place in Brussels.

He told this newspaper, "We will have a clear vision on the situation and if it's necessary to do something on an EU level, and if so, what kind of instruments (are needed)."

Bank issue

"We are following the situation in Ireland, along with the European Central Bank, because it's more a bank issue, but now of course it has become a budget issue."

Government sources insisted yesterday that Ireland is "not seeking access to any fund".

Officials close to the Brussels talks said the subject is "highly sensitive" but confirmed that Ireland and the EU's €440bn stability fund will come up in conversation.

However, a spokesman for Luxembourg's prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker -- who chairs the Eurogroup talks -- said he had "no information" to that effect.

EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said the bloc stood ready to help Ireland and that the bailout fund was ready to go should the Government need to tap it.

"In case of need the EU is ready to support Ireland," he said. "What is important to know is that we have all the necessary instruments in place now in the EU and the eurozone to act if necessary."

The news comes as Irish borrowing costs hit record highs of over 9pc yesterday, double what they were when the eurozone debt crisis broke last spring and the stability fund was set up.

Irish Independent

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