Guarded welcome for deal from CDU
Berlin gave a guarded welcome yesterday to Ireland’s promissory note deal with the European Central Bank (ECB). During months of negotiations, Chancellor Angela Merkel said the Frankfurt bank’s political independence left her unable to comment on Ireland’s debt ambitions. Yesterday in Brussels, however, she let it be known she was delighted to hear a deal, which everyone was happy with, had put a spring in Mr Kenny’s step.
In Berlin, Norbert Barthle, a close Merkel ally and Christian Democrat (CDU) budgetary spokesman, said the final agreement was good news. Last month, he was the first prominent figure in the ruling CDU to come out in public to back a promissory note deal for Ireland. In January he said he saw “no negative consequences” to extending repayments, a move he said “could make sense”.
Though in regular contact with the chancellery, Mr Barthle said yesterday his remarks last month were not co-ordinated with the German leader, but that they came from a growing belief in the ruling CDU’s parliamentary party that Ireland deserved a break. “We’re delighted that it worked out yesterday because we always get the quarterly programme reports and saw how Ireland . . . was sticking to its reform programme,” said Mr Barthle.
“I hope now that Ireland is in a position to exit its programme with bearable interest rates, in fact I’m very confident it can.”
Unlike Mr Barthle, German government officials refuse to comment in public. Their restraint is motivated by a desire to steer clear of the ECB.
They have always seen a promissory deal as only of secondary interest to them. They do, however, admit concern that failing to agree a deal on the Anglo Irish debt note could have had a knock-on effect on the troika arrangement, even forcing a new programme.
“Any agreements which ease Ireland’s return to capital markets are good news, even where we are not protagonists,” said one Berlin official yesterday.