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TWO of the most senior officials in the European Union, Olli Rehn and Viviane Reding (below), have cited Ireland and Latvia as proof that Europe's approach to the financial crisis must be maintained.

In an article in Austrian newspaper Die Presse entitled 'Why we can not let up in 2014', translated into English, Ms Reding (Vice President of the European Commission) and Mr Rehn (European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs) said Ireland's employment record is proof that the EU's strategy is working.

"Ireland is once again without protection," said the commissioners. "It has emerged strengthened after years of crisis from a very difficult reform programme", citing the fact that Irish employment levels grew at the fastest pace since 2007 in the third quarter of 2013.

Ireland was able to leave its bailout within three years, they said, by addressing the causes of the catastrophic collapse of its banks and real estate market.

"The examples of Latvia and Ireland are of great importance," they wrote.

"They clearly demonstrate that Europe's strategy to combat the crisis is working... Just two years ago, Latvia was struggling out of a very deep recession with the support of an EU-IMF programme. Today it is the fastest growing economy in the EU."