EU leaders praise Kenny and the Irish people

Those who thought the Euro would implode have been proven wrong - Barroso

President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso addressing the European Peoples Party 2014 elections congress in the Convention Centre in Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso addressing the European Peoples Party 2014 elections congress in the Convention Centre in Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Fri, Mar 7, 2014, 17:18

European leaders have paid tribute to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Irish people for halting the economic decline and successfully exiting the bailout.

Speaking at the European People’s Party congress in Dublin this afternoon prime the ministers of Germany, Spain, Greece, Romania, Hungary and Finland, among others, praised the country’s handling of the recent economic collapse.

EU Commission president José Manuel Barroso also spoke of Mr Kenny’s “leadership and the courage of the Irish people” in dealing with the crisis and the austerity measures which followed. EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy said the Irish strategy had been “the right one to serve the future”.

Addressing Mr Kenny directly Ms Merkel said “ Thank you that you have been so successful and able to leave the bail-out. Thank you to the people in Ireland”.

In an at times passionate address Mr Barroso said the past decade had delivered some of the most difficult years since the process of European integration began.

But he said those who predicted the euro would implode had been wrong. He said those who had predicted that Greece would leave the euro were wrong and he said those who predicted that the European Union would implode had also been wrong.

In contrast he said the head of the European Central Bank yesterday branded the euro ‘an island of stability’ – despite sluggish economic growth and high unemployment. This was something that Europeans could be very proud of, he said and he paid tribute to Ms Merkel and the member states who had provided stability and solidarity.

Mr Kenny told the congress he would not recommend to any member State the actions which Ireland had taken over the last few years. But he said it was not a budgetary whimsey but necessary action to return Ireland to financial stability and to restore its international reputation. He said the future for the Union must be to focus on jobs. “There is so much more that we can do. No one is happy with 26million people unemployed” he said, adding that nine million young people had said they had no confidence in the political process to change their lives for the better.

The conference also passed an emergency motion condemning “the invasion of Russian troops on the sovereign territory of Ukraine”.

People on the barricades in Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine, have “the same right to freedom and democracy” as European citizens, Ms Merkel said.

Merkel said the EU “must take the right steps” in encouraging the Ukraine in its current difficulties with Russia.

Mr Van Rompuy said the EU must support the Ukraine “on the road they have chosen”.

“We are on the side of those who who want to share in a society based on democracy and justice” he said.