Barroso believes State will succeed in returning to markets by end of year
José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, yesterday. photograph: Alan Betson
European Commission president José Manuel Barroso expressed confidence that Ireland could return to the financial markets by the end of the year during a visit to Dublin yesterday.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore held talks in Government Buildings yesterday with the president of the European Parliament Martin Schultz and Mr Barroso.
Mr Barroso said he was not suggesting things were easy for people or pretending that all problems had been settled.
‘Turned a corner’
“I keep to my confidence that Ireland will be able to have a full coming back to the markets before the end of this year. It is in this sense that I believe that Ireland has turned a corner,” he said.
“We are very well aware of the huge difficulties that are still faced by many Irish citizens and we have the greatest respect for those sacrifices that were made.
“In Ireland and in other parts of Europe without these kind of measures we could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think it’s fair to say that now regarding Ireland we can see light at the end of the tunnel.” He said Ireland had been recovering in confidence and confidence was critically important for growth.
Mr Schultz said European colleagues had to show solidarity with Ireland and “stick to the promises” made previously.
“I think the Europeans should not forget that the Irish people avoided – with a lot of burdens they put at the end on their shoulders here – a crash of the whole European banking system,” he said.
However, it emerged yesterday that a decision by euro zone finance ministers on Ireland’s request for an extension of the maturities of some of its bailout loans has been delayed.
Finance ministers from the 17 euro zone member states had been expected to deliver their verdict on a request by Ireland and Portugal to extend the maturity of their loans at next Monday’s meeting of finance ministers.
However, an EU source confirmed that a final decision will not be made, and the discussion is still “preliminary”.
“As the exit from [their] programmes is still quite quite far away, I have no reason to believe that there will a final discussion or decision on any possible changes to the loan maturities,” he said, adding that it was “a bit early” to say what the economic and market situation will be at the end of the programmes.
Ireland has been hoping that an agreement to lengthen some of the loans that constitute its bailout programme will help to lower its borrowing requirements, and ease its exit from the bailout. But the delay indicates that the proposal is meeting some resistance from member states, including Germany. While an agreement is still expected to be reached in some form, the scope of any arrangement is now under discussion.
Ireland’s €67 billion bailout programme comprises €17.7billion from the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) which is controlled by the 17-member states.
A further €22.5 billion comes from the European Financial Stability Mechanism, which falls under the control of the 27-strong European Union.
Discussion is under way to seek profiling of both portions of the debt, though a final decision is likely to be predicated on the response of euro zone finance ministers.
The IMF is not expected to agree to a lengthening of the maturities of its loans, worth about €22.5 billion.