Merkel praises Irish reform but ‘no change’ to strategy

Re-elected chancellor says Ireland an example of how crisis countries can turn themselves around

German Chancellor and Christian Democratic Union leader Angela Merkel looks on during a press conference after a meeting of the CDU governing board on the first day after German federal elections at CDU headquarter  today. Photograph: Getty

German Chancellor and Christian Democratic Union leader Angela Merkel looks on during a press conference after a meeting of the CDU governing board on the first day after German federal elections at CDU headquarter today. Photograph: Getty

Mon, Sep 23, 2013, 13:14

German chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed her “gratitude” for Ireland’s reform policy but vowed “no change” in her euro zone crisis strategy.

A day after her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) won Germany’s federal election with 41.8 per cent, she expressed regret that her outgoing coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party (FDP), had exited the Bundestag. Its leader Philip Rösler stood down this morning in Berlin after polling just 4.8 per cent.

Ireland has made huge progress. But Ireland didn’t make this progress for Germany but after its own realisation that some things in recent years hadn’t gone well in Ireland,” she told a press conference in Berlin. “I am grateful that my colleague (Enda) Kenny and his government took up these reforms.”

Citing the “impressive interest rate” change on Irish sovereign debt, she said Ireland was an example that crisis countries can turn themselves around. However she saw no need for greater flexibility in the EU’s balance between savings and stimulus measures offered to return crisis countries to economic health.

“I am very satisfied and give my highest respect to what Ireland has done in the last years,” she said. “This will be important for Ireland. But my European strategy will not change on this point.”

The German leader said she was anxious to form a “stable government” and had telephoned with Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Sigmar Gabriel with a view to opening coalition talks.

Dr Merkel said Europe would only work in the future as a community of “smaller and bigger countries who all add their voice”.

Germany’s interest in a successful EU was more than mere economics, she said, but a guarantee of a European voice being heard in the world.

However, this relevance hinged on economic reforms for greater competitiveness.

Yesterday’s vote, she said, was an endorsement by the German people of her approach to the EU.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance Brian Hayes welcomed Ms Merkel’s comments, describing them as “very warm . . . and a reflection of how Ireland has restructured its economy”.

He said discussions about the Irish economy with German politicians contained an appreciation of this progress and he said Germany had provided incremental support to Ireland, particularly in relation to changes to the structure of the promissory notes.

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