Kenny welcomes German assurances on Irish debt
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has welcomed assurances from German chancellor Angela Merkel that Ireland should be assisted by EU partners in its return to financial markets in a “timely manner”.
Mr Kenny said he used lunchtime talks in Berlin to explain to Dr Merkel the need for progress on outstanding issues of concern to Ireland and that she agreed with him to prioritise this work in the Euro group.
“I very much welcome the chancellor’s support to ensure successful completion of the programme and to realise sustainable re-entry to markets. Dealing with Ireland’s banking and sovereign debt process is a key challenge for us,” said Mr Kenny at a joint press conference with Dr Merkel.
“We agreed that this is given priority … as the successful implementation of an Irish programme is not only an issue of importance for Ireland,” he said, but also an important message for the euro zone as a whole and I know the chancellor shares this view very strongly.”
fficials on both sides said the two leaders did not go into the details of Ireland's expectations for a refund of money used by the state to prop up Irish banks.
The technical side of any possible deal have been delegated to the finance ministries. Dr Merkel refused to be drawn beyond commitments made in a bilateral statement last month that the “unique circumstances” of Ireland’s “special case” in the euro zone crisis required particular attention.
“We agreed in June that there was a special situation in Ireland, we are interested in a sustainable completion of the programme,” she said.
“Our finance ministers have been charged with this and are in close contact in the euro group and at bilateral level … and I think the outcome their work needs to be awaited to address the Irish problems.”
She denied that Germany’s reform demands of its euro zone partners were austerity-heavy.
“Austerity is not a means to an end,” she said. “It’s only good if it leads to growth. I don’t think we are following pure consolidation austerity politics. If you look at what Ireland has done, budget consolidation is just one part of it.”
Dr Merkel said her priority was to break Europe’s political dependency on debt and financial markets as “a kind of insurance for our children and grand-children that they will be able to take independent political decisions”.
The two leaders discussed Ireland’s upcoming EU presidency, during which Mr Kenny said Ireland’s “priority pillars” would be measures to promote economic stability, growth and jobs, and to cut red tape to “allow businesses do business”.