Kenny says breaking link between bank and sovereign debt a 'critical test'
EU leaders plan to give unemployed young people an automatic right of access to training
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the execution of a promise by the European Union to break the connection between bank and sovereign debt was a critical test of Europe’s credibility.
Speaking to reporters this afternoon as the EU summit wrapped up, the Taoiseach said EU authorities still needed to deliver on commitments made to ensure Ireland’s smooth exit from the bailout programme.
His remarks come two days after a successful sale of long-term debt by the National Treasury Management Agency, the first since Ireland was shut out of international markets in 2010.
The Taoiseach said: “I pointed out the progress that has been and is being made in Ireland, but clearly of the opinion that, while we’re now recognised as heading in the right direction, the assistance and co-operation that has been committed to by the European colleagues will have to be delivered on to see that Ireland exits its programme safely and can make its way for the future.”
He went to say that European leaders expressed a strong view that they should move head to implement measures already agreed to stimulate economic growth.
This was important in the context of the drive to deepen the single market and proceed with initiatives such the “youth guarantee” to give unemployed young people the automatic right to training.
“A point I made myself is that it’s absolutely critical for governments to be able to bring people with them and to explain both the nature of the problem, the scale of that problem, the plan and the strategy to deal with it,” Mr Kenny said.
EU governments today also rejected a Franco-British push to lift an EU arms embargo to allow weapons supplies to Syrian rebels, voicing fears this could spark an arms race and worsen regional instability.
France and Britain found little support for their proposal to ease the embargo at an EU summit in Brussels, EU diplomats said, although they asked the bloc's foreign ministers to look again at the issue next week.
“Nobody really is interested (in lifting the embargo),” an EU diplomat said.
“There is no prospect of change any time soon.” EU governments want to support rebels waging a two-year uprising against Syrian president Dr Bashar al-Assad.
But many expressed fears on Friday that allowing weapons to flow to rebels could lead to weapons falling into the wrong hands - especially Islamist militants in the rebel ranks - and lead Dr Assad's backers to step up arms deliveries to his government.
European Council president Herman van Rompuy said leaders had asked their foreign ministers to look at the issue "as a matter of priority" at a March 22nd-23rd meeting in Dublin. The arms ban is part of a package of EU sanctions on Syria that rolls over every three months. An extension agreed last month expires on June 1st.
Without unanimous agreement to renew or amend it, the embargo lapses, along with the sanctions.
Demonstrators gathered outside the meeting calling for more government spending to ease austerity and unemployment in the euro zone.