Schulz restates support for deal on bank debt
European Parliament president Martin Schulz yesterday reiterated his support for Ireland’s efforts to get relief on its bank debt, as he called for the conclusions of last June’s European Council summit to be upheld.
“Personally, and I have broad support from many members of the European Parliament, with regard to the Irish government I think it is very important for them to know that the concessions were made to Ireland back in June will be maintained.”
His comments come ahead of a euro group meeting on Monday at which the euro zone’s permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), will be discussed.
No decision on ESM
Asked about reports this week that member states may have to co-invest in the ESM, thereby diluting the potential relief Ireland could get from the fund, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that “no decision” had been made in respect of the ESM yet. “The euro group are now in possession of this mandate,” he added.
European finance leaders have been given a deadline of June to finalise plans for the bailout fund. Ireland is hoping to secure some form of debt relief from the ESM, by getting the fund to invest in Bank of Ireland and AIB. Separately, Ireland is in discussions with the ECB about recasting the terms of the promissory note used to recapitalise the now defunct Anglo Irish Bank.
In a speech on Ireland’s priorities during its presidency of the European Council, the Taoiseach highlighted debt relief as a key concern.
“It is in Ireland’s interest that we make this an effective presidency because I want to see this country exit this programme in 2013. That’s not just a good signal about Ireland, it’s a good signal about Europe,” he told the Parliament.
“We had to borrow €64 billion and put that on the backs of our electorate because European financial policy and European political policy at the time was that no bank should fail.
“We are the only country which has a situation where we have to repay €3 billion every year for 10 years in promissory notes. It hasn’t happened to any other country. That’s why its important for Ireland to exit the programme and that we get the support that has been committed to us by Europe.”
Separately, Irish Minister of State for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton represented the European Commission’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, in a serious of debates in the European Parliament yesterday.
As the current holder of the presidency of the European Council, Ireland is obliged to represent the EU high commissioner on foreign affairs when required. Among the issues debated were corruption, the misuse of EU funds and the situation in Syria.