Sunday 21 January 2018

Colm McCarthy: Let's write off monetary union and start afresh

Many of the expected benefits of Eurozone membership are not being delivered.

Last week saw further announcements of job losses in Ireland, with An Post and Eircom set to shed 3,500 jobs between them. Output is falling in all seven of the most financially distressed Eurozone countries.

There could be zero growth for Europe as a whole next year, in which case there will be no export-led recovery in Ireland. Unless prospects of economic recovery can be restored, the five-year-old crisis could limp on for many more years.

The Irish Government's efforts to secure relief from bank-related debt brought German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble to Dublin last Monday, while Taoiseach Enda Kenny visited Berlin on Friday. Mr Schauble confined his on-the-record remarks to a reiteration of support for Ireland's adjustment programme, citing Chancellor Angela Merkel's acceptance, which she repeated again on Friday, that Ireland is, in some undefined sense, a "special case". The Irish Independent summarised the outcome of Mr Schauble's visit, quoting an Irish Government source, in these terms: "He is basically saying, 'Come to us, find a unique way that distinguishes you from everyone else'. He's very cautious about opening up any opportunities for other countries."

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