No jobs recovery until 2014, says Van Rompuy
Ibec speech:Europeans no longer face a threat to their currency or savings, but it will be next year before employment growth returns, European Council president Herman Van Rompuy said yesterday.
Mr Van Rompuy was on a visit to Dublin to coincide with the beginning of Ireland’s tenure of the six-month rotating EU presidency.
While the former Belgian prime minister said there were “no quick fixes” for Europe’s problems, the results of actions taken since the crisis erupted were already being felt.
He pointed to the falling borrowing costs for “almost every country” in the EU and said countries such as Ireland, Portugal and Spain had made strides in restoring competitiveness. On Ireland, Mr Van Rompuy told an event hosted by the Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation that when the trickle of good news in recent months was taken together it amounted to “a steady sign that confidence is returning”.
He praised Ireland’s response to its economic woes, saying that the determination to stay the course was an example to other countries.
The calming of the euro zone crisis in recent months was due to institutional innovations, such as the fiscal treaty, put in place over the past three years, he claimed. But he warned that the easing of market pressures since August needed to be replaced by pressure from EU institutions. This was required to ensure European countries continued to reform. Such reforms, he said, would have been needed whether or not the financial crisis had occurred. That, in turn, was because challenges, such as the ageing of Europe’s population, required far-reaching solutions to be put in place.
Mr Van Rompuy said that further fiscal and financial integration was needed in Europe. This was illustrated by, among other things, the “disproportionate” cost of Ireland’s banking collapse.
Moves towards a banking union among EU countries would be at “the top of the agenda” in the first half of 2013, he told the audience, largely composed of senior figures from the world of business.
The just-started EU presidency is Ireland’s first since Mr Van Rompuy’s role was created under the Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force at the beginning of 2009.
Much of the work that was done by the six-month rotating presidency in the past is now done by Mr Van Rompuy’s office, although he co-ordinates closely with the member state holding the presidency. Hence his visit to Dublin yesterday.