| 13.8°C Dublin

Merkel's fury as Kenny rebuffs her on Euro reforms

THEY looked like an odd couple and by all accounts their relationship seemed a bit strained.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel rolled out the red carpet for Enda Kenny but the Taoiseach may have pushed his luck.

Ms Merkel seemed to think that Mr Kenny was showing up to say thanks for the Germans' help but instead of playing footsie, Mr Kenny went for hardball.

Despite lavish lunch of cod, roast chicken and a crema catalana dessert, relations quickly turned sour following "frank" discussions over a potential third EU treaty.



nails

Mr Kenny has previously boasted about his close relationship with his German counterpart.

However, the awkward body language said it all as an irked Ms Merkel made it clear that Germany demanded significant changes to the EU rulebook.

Observers remarked how Ms Merkel -- with a deep frown and impatient glare -- began picking at her nails as Mr Kenny spoke defiantly against a Lisbon III.

The premiers clashed over Ms Merkel's calls for a new referendum with the Taoiseach emphasising that any such move would prove "very challenging". "While there are strong rules needed here, any steps towards major treaty change would obviously be very challenging," he said.

"I've had a frank discussion about that with the Chancellor. And I believe that the immediate crisis has to be dealt with in the short term with the facilities and tools that are available to us."

And in a clear dig at his host, Mr Kenny suggested that current bailout conditions were hampering our hopes of recovery.

Mr Kenny added: "Ireland has always complied with the conditions of (eurozone) membership, we've never broken the stability pact rules. If it wasn't for the prerequisite to recapitalise banks, we would have a lower than average debt to GDP ratio."

However Ms Merkel made no secret of the division in opinions -- heaping pressure on other EU countries to accept "very limited but clear treaty change".

She said: "We are of the opinion that member states should be able to be taken before the European Court for not adhering to the terms of the stability and growth pact," she said. "This is possible for all other EU legislation but not for the stability and growth pact."

Irish officials who accompanied Mr Kenny to the frosty encounter claimed that the Mayo man made a direct attempt to play "hardball".

And Mr Kenny also succeeded in annoying Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble when he poured cold water on German calls for a new EU-wide tax as well as claiming that the fund to bail out countries like Ireland is "insufficient".

A visibly tetchy Mr Schauble hit back -- describing Mr Kenny's claim that the ECB offer more financial support to countries as the "wrong solution".

SEE PAGE 15


Privacy