Taoiseach rules out treaty changes to solve debt crisis


Ireland is against any change to European Union treaties to facilitate deeper fiscal union and has informed its fellow member states of its position, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said tonight.

Asked whether he supported the concept of treaty change as part of long-term efforts to solve the euro zone debt crisis, Mr Kenny said "I don't."

"I've made this known to other leaders. It's very important that having put the Lisbon (Treaty) in place that the governments of the EU work that treaty in the way that it was intended," he said during the Eastern Partnership Summit in Warsaw

Meanwhile global stock markets were again sent tumbling today, posting their worst quarterly performance since the end of 2008, on concerns that global growth was stalling, with weak China manufacturing data the latest piece of evidence to suggest a slowdown.

The torrid quarterly performance had also been hit by concerns about the euro zone sovereign debt crisis, with policymakers still yet to come up a suitable plan to ease the situation.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy said he will meet German chancellor Angela Merkel in the coming days to discuss Greece's debt troubles.

Following a meeting with Greek prime minister George Papandreou in Paris today, Mr Sarkozy said he had been reassured by the Greek leader that Athens would deliver on its commitments in return for European aid.

Mr Papandreou pledged full transparency in Greece's debt-cutting efforts as he left the presidential palace.

Stocks were set to close their worst quarter in nearly three years on a negative note this evening, weighed by nagging concerns about the world economy and the lack of a credible solution to Europe's debt crisis.

The euro and most commodity prices also fell, as investors' search for safety drove up US government bonds and the dollar. German retail sales slumped at their sharpest pace in more than four years.

An unexpected rise in euro zone inflation for September also moderated hopes the European Central Bank would cut interest rates to support weakening European demand. The euro was headed for its worst quarter against the dollar since mid-2010.

The euro fell 1.1 per cent to $1.34415, having hit a session trough of $1.34140 on trading platform EBS and edging back toward an eight-month low of $1.3360 set on Monday.

"The combination of sovereign debt crisis, a slowing economy and really what appears to be ineffective leadership in Europe has led to this decline, and we expect that to continue to play out in the fourth quarter," said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington.

Carmakers and mining stocks were among the worst performers, down 4.6 per cent and 2 per cent respectively on the China news and were the worst performers for the quarter.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of top shares provisionally closed down 1.6 percent at 918.44 points and had lost 17.3 per cent for the quarter its worst since the end of 2008.

Meanwhile angry civil servants blocked Greek government buildings today, disrupting talks for a second day with international lenders on a lifeline bailout.

At the transport ministry, dozens of employees prevented senior members of an international inspection team from reaching the minister. When Yannis Ragousis did later meet them elsewhere he assured them the government would not be swayed by protests.

"At a time when we are asking millions of Greeks to make sacrifices, it is our moral duty not to bow to special interests," the minister was quoted as saying by an aide.

After a three-week breakdown in negotiations that unnerved financial markets, Greece and inspectors from the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund resumed talks yesterday on an €8 billion euro aid tranche, which the country needs to avoid running out of cash next month.

Separately, Slovakia's prime minister said a proposal to win support from a dissenting coalition partner to back the EFSF safety net fully respects agreements made by euro zone leaders in July and she had a personal commitment to see it approved.

The junior ruling SaS party has opposed expanding the role of the EFSF and threatened to block it in parliament, which would prevent the mechanism from being activated.

Slovak prime minister Iveta Radicova said she would meet SaS leader Richard Sulik on the weekend but had yet to secure SaS support.