Economic Management Council meets on bailout


ECONOMY:THE GOVERNMENT’s new Economic Management Council held discussions for an hour and a half before yesterday’s Cabinet meeting as part of preparations for today’s crucial euro zone summit in Brussels on reforms to the EU bailout fund.

The body has its origins in the desire of the Coalition parties to work closely together on economic issues. Its establishment reflects the balance of forces between Fine Gael and Labour, which is more equal than the one between Fianna Fáil and the Greens, when the larger party held all key economic ministries.

The council consists of Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin.

Economic advisers to the Coalition parties and senior officials from relevant departments also attended yesterday morning’s meeting.

Explaining the rationale for setting up the council, Mr Howlin said last night that it would have an “overarching” role in relation to the finance and public expenditure departments.

The council would “constitute an economic driver and determine all economic policy to be driven by both departments”.

Mr Noonan and Mr Howlin will head separate departments, each with its own secretary general, but housed in the same building on Dublin’s Merrion Street.

Mr Howlin said last Sunday the council would be “the decision-making nexus for all economic policy”.

He told RTÉ last night his department and Mr Noonan’s “will be equal departments with Cabinet-rank Ministers, not one superior to the other – with their own secretaries general and deputy secretaries in charge of the divisions”.