EU should apply fiscal rules before treaty change, Donohoe tells Berlin

Minister of State says Lisbon Treaty has ‘significant capacity’ yet to be tapped

During a visit to Berlin, Minister of State for European Affairs Paschal Donohoe said a “strong array” of economic integration tools agreed between EU governments during the crisis had yet to be fully exploited.

During a visit to Berlin, Minister of State for European Affairs Paschal Donohoe said a “strong array” of economic integration tools agreed between EU governments during the crisis had yet to be fully exploited.

Mon, Feb 10, 2014, 01:00


Minister of State for European Affairs Paschal Donohoe has said the EU should concentrate on applying fiscal rules agreed in the recent crisis before following Germany’s demand for further treaty change.

On a visit to Berlin, Mr Donohoe said the Republic viewed it as essential that the EU preserved rights for freedom of movement and labour anchored in EU treaties. He said the Lisbon Treaty had a “significant capacity” yet to be tapped to bring European institutions closer to citizens, while a “strong array” of economic integration tools agreed between EU governments during the crisis had yet to be fully exploited.

“What a country like Ireland has achieved is with what is available to the union at the moment,” he said.

Since her re-election, German chancellor Angela Merkel has flagged treaty change as essential to tackle the next challenges facing the EU.


Fiscal competences
She argues that shifting fiscal competences from member states to EU level is the only way to move from intergovernmental deals back to the traditional EU “community method”.

Mr Donohoe said the Republic was “in favour of making the current method work”.

“The maintenance of [the] treaties and the full use of all they offer provides the essential framework for addressing . . . change,” he told an audience at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation on Friday.

On his first Berlin visit as Minister of State, Mr Donohoe met his German opposite number, Social Democratic Party Europe minister Michael Roth. They agreed that competitiveness and social cohesion were two sides of the same coin. Later he met economists at the German Institute for Economic Research and gave his speech at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, linked to Dr Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.

Mr Donohoe said it was thanks to huge sacrifices by the Irish people that the economy was back on a sustainable path.

In all his meetings Mr Donohoe said he made clear that the Republic still had unfinished bailout business and was “committed to making progress and sustainability of national debt” – when the EU banking union is up and running. The State’s demands for concessions on its bank debt have so far met with a lukewarm reaction in Berlin.

“It would be fair to say in the discussion with Minister Roth that this is a point that was acknowledged. We both know it is an issue to be worked on within the finance minister group,” said Mr Donohoe.