Sunday 17 November 2019

Kenny fails again to back Rabbitte on non-payment of €3bn bank debt

Fionnan Sheahan Brussels

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has repeatedly failed to back up a senior minister's claim the Government is definitely not going to pay the next €3bn instalment on Anglo Irish Bank debt.

Mr Kenny was speaking after EU leaders signed off on a system of directing the new EU bailout funds into struggling banks.

But Germany rebuffed calls for more financial risk-sharing in the eurozone.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected a proposal for a fund to help debt-laden countries cope with economic shocks and left open who would pay to wind down stricken banks.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte ruled out the next Anglo repayment being made saying this week that the Government is "not going to pay it next year".

But Mr Kenny was not as definitive on the Anglo promissory note repayment when pressed on whether this was actually Government policy.

"Well I've made it clear what Government policy is and Government policy is that, in respect of the promissory note, we want to re-engineer this in such a way we won't have to pay €3.1bn in March," he said.

Mr Kenny also offered little clarity on what argument the Government would be putting forward when the EU moves to define exactly what are "legacy assets" in banks.

The Taoiseach said he had updated a number of leaders on the progress Ireland was making on the economic front.

"I made it perfectly clear that we need the support and the commitment and the help that has been committed to in the decision of the 29th of June," he said, referring to the commitment to give Ireland a bank debt deal.

With an eye on a German general election next year, Chancellor Merkel made EU officials drop any mention of a shock-absorber fund, backed by France and southern European states, from the conclusions of a two-day European Union summit.

She also resisted efforts by French President Francois Hollande and Italy to loosen EU budget discipline rules by exempting public investment when calculating national deficits.

The European Central Bank also rejected any let-out clauses from fiscal consolidation.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy told a news conference that the issue of how to finance a Single Resolution Mechanism for banks until levies on financial institutions provided sufficient money would have be decided later.


However, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the bloc's ESM rescue fund would be able to inject capital directly into troubled banks in countries under an assistance programme, without it weighing on national debt, from mid-2013.

The sixth and last EU summit of 2012 had been intended to discuss how to overhaul economic and monetary union and correct the flaws that have fuelled three years of debt crisis.

The meeting was held just hours after EU finance ministers achieved a significant breakthrough by agreeing to make the European Central Bank the top supervisor of eurozone banks, the first stage in an eventual banking union.

That decision, and another by eurozone ministers to release up to €50bn in new aid to Greece, marked two positive developments after a long year of crisis-management and eased pressure on leaders to make major strides.

ECB will underpin future of euro. Business, pages 40 & 41

Irish Independent

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