Policy seen as `half-baked'

 

Ireland's relationship with the rest of the EU is deteriorating badly and need to be sorted out, the former Taoiseach Dr Garret FitzGerald has warned.

Speaking at the 21st anniversary lecture of the Kenmare Economics Workshop, Dr FitzGerald also warned that the Government's attempt to secure further structural funds for the regions is "half-baked and clearly opportunistic". It will only serve to further undermine our position with the other countries, he said.

In a very wide-ranging interview on the first 25 years of Ireland's involvement with the EU, Dr FitzGerald set out how past decisions were taken and stressed that Ireland must now start thinking about who its future allies will be.

Dr FitzGerald said the Germans in particular, but also the French, believe Ireland "went over the top in the last round of structural fund negotiations".

The IFSC has also caused "immense problems" and the recent decision to move to a 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate has only added to the immense irritation, he argued.

He said that within 10 years Ireland will be net contributors to the EU. He said structural funds have only contributed less than 2 per cent of current public spending. "Their phasing out over a decade will not cause a huge problem," he said.