Thursday 22 March 2018

John Bruton: Despite all its problems, the EU does work... and the Stability Treaty is about making it work better

The ECB headquarters in Frankfurt
The ECB headquarters in Frankfurt

THE net question in the referendum is whether Irish permanent law should be amended to constrain Governments running up debts in future. In a way, this should not be a controversial issue.

If Governments run up debts, these debts have to be serviced or repaid by citizens. Prudent citizens should, I believe, be in favour of using the law to prevent Governments piling up unnecessary or wasteful liabilities for future generations. It is very difficult for an individual voter to follow what a Government is doing with the finances on a day to day basis. So having limits and independent controls should be seen as helping people ensure that their money is managed prudently by their Government.

Opposition parties, in particular, should favour placing limits on borrowing by current Governments because, if they ever find themselves in office, they will be the ones who will have to put money aside to pay interest on the previous Government’s debts, before they can spend any money at all on day to day services or investment for the future.

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