Treaty need not affect Constitution - Gilmore

Sat, Jan 21, 2012, 00:00

EUROPE’S PROPOSED new fiscal treaty has no “appropriate” place in the Constitution, the Government has argued.

This position, advanced by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore yesterday is at odds with Germany’s campaign to have constitutional limits over debt and budget deficits enshrined throughout the euro zone.

Although the latest treaty draft leaves scope for Dublin to incorporate a “golden rule” on debt and deficits in secondary legislation rather than in the Constitution, a German government spokesman said Berlin is not happy with the text of the pact as it now stands.

A Government source said the talks were “definitely moving in the right direction” and confirmed the objective was to ensure a referendum on the treaty would not be necessary.

The debate is viewed with some trepidation by the Coalition, which fears defeat should a vote be required. Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams accused the Government of wanting to “bypass” the electorate. “The Government knows that a euro zone treaty which enshrines harsh austerity measures has little chance of ratification from the Irish people,” he said.

In Dublin yesterday, an adviser to European Council president Herman Van Rompuy said he hoped that EU finance ministers, who meet in Brussels on Monday, would finalise the text so EU leaders can simply sign off on it at a summit on Monday week.

The treaty negotiation takes place against the backdrop of talks in Athens on a large private bondholder contribution to a second EUIMF bailout for Greece.

After several hours of talks with prime minister Lucas Papademos, the Institute of International Finance banking lobby said late last night that the elements of an “unprecedented voluntary private sector involvement” were coming into place.