Category: Archive

Irish budget gets EU reprimand

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — Charlie McCreevy and Ireland had no friends in Brussels this week when the other EU 14 finance ministers endorsed a Commission recommendation to deliver a rap on the knuckles about budget policies they said would stoke inflation and weaken the euro.

Despite a strong defense of his policies, McCreevy was reprimanded at an ECOFIN meeting on Monday but afterward was unmoved by the censure and not surprised he was isolated.

"A lot of people would say privately and off the record that I had a case, but for their own national reasons, or whatever, people weren’t prepared to say that," he said.

The Commission says McCreevy needs to trim his budget by £400 million, but he again reiterated that his December budget measures would stand for 2001. The rebuke is non-binding and involves no sanctions on Ireland.

"There will be a budget later this year," he said. "We’ll take on board what is said by the Commission and other commentators and produce the budget and I’m sure we are going to have another day out then.

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"The Commission has a point of view. They have put it forward. I defended the Irish situation. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in next year’s budget.

"What we have done in Ireland in recent years has been the correct prescription for the Irish economy. Perhaps it wouldn’t have worked in the rest of Europe, but it has worked in Ireland."

Tanaiste Mary Harney issued a statement saying she fully backed the finance minister and regretted the reprimand.

"Now it is time to move on and continue to work on the common purpose we share with our EU colleagues," she said.

"I have made a positive suggestion for enhancing the constructive dialogue between Ireland, the EU Commission and other member states on small, open economies in the EU."

She looked forward to discussions with the EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pedro Solbes — author of the reprimand — when he visits Ireland next week.

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