Wednesday 25 April 2018

Full employment is more like a work of fiction, Leo

Jobs figures show the economy has slowed, but it's the low-skilled we need to worry about, writes Dan O'Brien

Emerging from the shadows: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar prepares to greet European Parliament Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt on his arrival at Government Buildings, Dublin, last week. Photo: PA
Emerging from the shadows: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar prepares to greet European Parliament Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt on his arrival at Government Buildings, Dublin, last week. Photo: PA
Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

The man who has had as much sway over the Irish economy as Paschal Donohoe and Michael Noonan over the past half decade spoke in Ireland for the first time last week. Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, has more influence over the interest rate on your mortgage than anyone else. During his time at the helm in Frankfurt, two Eurozone countries - Cyprus and Greece - have had their entire banking systems shuttered for weeks as a result of disputes with the institution he leads.

Now, on the final straight of a seven-year term, the Italian gave a speech in Dublin's Trinity College last Friday. Unusually for a central banker, there was no mention of inflation or interest rates. Instead, he spoke mainly about youth unemployment.

The speech was unremarkable. What is remarkable is that the leader of one of the European Union's most important institutions has taken more than five years to get around to visiting one of the 19 countries over which he wields so much power. And that is despite endless blather about the recognised need to bring the EU and its institutions "closer to the people".

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