Eurobonds 'for discussion' at EU summit, says Kenny

Wed, May 23, 2012, 01:00

Talks are underway in Brussels tonight at the informal dinner of heads of government hosted by Hermann van Rompuy, president of the European Council.

Speaking ahead of tonight's summit, the Taoiseach said Eurobonds will be on the table for discussion.

Mr Kenny said the ESM, the role of the ECB, leveraging the EIB and trade liberalisation and expansion would also be on the agenda.

"I see this as an opportunity not just to have the question of good budgetary rules examined here but to ally that a very strong growth agenda and that covers a very broad spectrum. We'll have a lot of views I think from different leaders this evening," Mr Kenny told reporters.

Of interest to Ireland, Mr Kenny said, was the issue of the ESM being used to capitalise banks.

"Clearly as the first country where the sovereign government borrowed money to recapitalise the banks - this didn't happen elsewhere - and clearly an issue like that would be in Ireland's interest and would be something we would be exceptionally interested in."

Mr Kenny also said the government would not support a financial transaction tax. "We do not support that where there would be a  disadvantage to our country."

MEPs meeting in Strasbourg today backed a proposal to introduce a tax on financial transactions across the European Union and  EU economics commissioner Olli Rehn said yesterday the tax had the potential to raise €57 billion in revenue that could be used for targeted investment.

Earlier today, the Tánaiste said the summit will give added urgency to the growth agenda for Europe but will not result in firm proposals at this stage.

Speaking in Brussels, Eamon Gilmore played down hopes of a concrete outcome from the summit but insisted the meeting would accelerate progress towards the tabling of growth proposals.

Asked whether Ireland would need a second bailout, Mr Gilmore insisted that the country was on track to re-enter the financial markets at the end of 2013 after the current bailout programme is completed.

He said Ireland had made its targets under the programme and was in discussion with the troika about ways its bank debt could be re-engineered to the benefit of the Irish taxpayer.

The Labour leader was speaking immediately after a meeting with EU economics commissioner Ollie Rehn and before entering a meeting of leaders of the Party of European Socialists grouping to which his party belongs.

He described his meeting with Mr Rehn as very positive and said a lot of progress had been made in discussions about the conditions for a growth and development stimulus package for the Irish economy. These proposals were being actively worked upon, though there was no specific timetable, he said.

Firmer proposals are unlikely to be ready in advance of the May 31st vote on the fiscal treaty, he indicated.

Mr Gilmore said he expected tonight’s dinner meeting to accelerate progress in widening the role of the European Investment Bank and reusing structural funds to address youth unemployment. Eurobonds would be on the agenda, he said, but discussions were at a very early stage and it remained to be seen what progress would be made on this issue.

He acknowledged that Ireland has used up its share of structural funds but said ways would have to be found to “re-harness” remaining funds in other ways. “Ireland supports these initiatives that will help to grow the European economy because that means additional investment in Ireland,” he said.

Earlier today, the Taoiseach told an event in Dublin the opportunities to work out a path to growth at the EU summit are “enormous”.

Speaking at the Chartered Accountants of Ireland Leinster Society lunch in Dublin this afternoon, Mr Kenny said it was the first European Council meeting to be focused on growth and opportunity.

The Taoiseach with Frank Gannon, chairman, at the Chartered Accountants Leinster Society lunch in Dublin today. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

“Clearly the opportunities are enormous in the sense of working out a strategy and plan and a path to actually make decisions to implement growth-enhancing opportunities and measures,” he said. “I’d hope that out of this particular meeting this evening there’d be an understanding that we have to decide on a strategy for decision-making in respect of growth opportunities.”

He said Mr Van Rompuy would encourage leaders to submit their proposals to the meeting this evening. When they regrouped in June, a series of decisions would be made.

Mr Kenny said there were few economies in Europe or the world that are more dependent than Ireland on international trade and investment for employment.

In the Dáil this morning, the Taoiseach described the summit as "the realisation of the claims made by quite a number of leaders for some time that Europe should focus on growth, investment and job opportunities".