Kenny spells out challenges for Ireland's EU presidency
THE STABILITY of the euro zone is the European Union’s most important priority in the coming months, according to Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Looking ahead to Ireland’s presidency of the EU, which starts next January, Mr Kenny said yesterday that in order to achieve that stability, the decisions taken by the European Council last June with regard to breaking the link between bank debt and sovereign debt must be implemented immediately.
The Taoiseach was speaking at a meeting of the Centrist Democrat International (CDI) group in Rome. Outlining the issues that will dominate the Irish presidency, the Taoiseach highlighted various matters, including Croatia’s accession to the EU, accession negotiations with Iceland, Turkey, Montenegro and Serbia and the need to “help the world’s poorest”.
In that regard, he pointed that next April Ireland will host an international conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Climate Justice, to be held in co-operation with the Mary Robinson Foundation on Climate Justice.
Earlier in the day, the Taoiseach had met with Italian prime minister Mario Monti for a meeting, in which both men exchanged information on the current situation in their respective countries. Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Mr Kenny commented on the latest quarterly economic commentary issued by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
Did he agree with the ESRI’s conclusion that Ireland requires further cuts in public expenditure this year in order to reduce the budget deficit? “The ESRI report sets out its view of the current situation . . . but the Government has a strategy here, a specific plan which has attracted and continues to attract support from our funding partners, and we continue to implement that in as fair a way as we can.
“Clearly, the 2013 budget will be the most challenging of this Government’s remit, and that’s why I have asked every Minister to bring in their conclusions this week in regard to what can be squeezed as a maximum out of the Croke Park agreement, and so that every issue in every department be examined rigidly for savings.”
The Taoiseach suggested Ireland and Italy are on the same page regarding the current moment of euro zone crisis, adding that he expected Italy to be “very supportive” of Ireland’s call for a restructuring of its debt at the next European Council meeting.
Not for the first time, the Taoiseach said that it was unlikely that the debt restructuring deal will be concluded by the end of October.