Barroso rounds on Higgins


European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso reacted with fury today as Irish Socialist MEP Joe Higgins accused Brussels of destroying Irish services and living standards.

During a debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Mr Higgins described the European Financial Stability Facility, as the euro zone rescue fund is known, as “nothing more than another tool to cushion major European banks from the consequences of their reckless speculation on the financial markets”.

Mr Higgins claimed the EFSF was a "mechanism to make working class people throughout Europe pay for the crisis of a broken financial system and a crisis-ridden European capitalism”.

He accused Mr Barroso and European Council president Herman Van Rompuy of effectively transferring tens of billions of euros of private bad debts “on to the shoulders of the Irish people”.

Mr Higgins claimed the EU was destroying services and the living standards of Irish people. “Far from being a bailout, your International Monetary Fund-EU intervention in Ireland is a mechanism to make vassals of Irish taxpayers to the European banks," he said. "We on the left in Ireland will insist that it goes to a referendum of the Irish people before it is passed.”

A furious Mr Barroso rejected the claims, instead blaming Irish banks and lax regulation for Ireland's problems.

“To the distinguished member of this Parliament who comes from Ireland, who asked a question suggesting that the problems of Ireland were created by Europe, let me tell you: the problems of Ireland were created by the irresponsible financial behaviour of some Irish institutions, and by the lack of supervision in the Irish market.

“Europe is now part of the solution, it is trying to support Ireland. But it was not Europe that created this fiscally irresponsible situation, and this financially irresponsible behaviour," he said.

“It is important to know where the responsibility lies. This is why it is important that those of us - and this is clearly the majority - who believe in European ideals, are able as much as possible to have a common response.”