EU not seeking more cuts, says Cowen


TAOISEACH BRIAN Cowen has ruled out an early budget and said Europe did not expect Ireland to produce more than the €3 billion in cuts already signalled.

The Government had received “no formal or informal” indication that further cuts were expected, Mr Cowen said.

Asked during a radio interview if the budget would take place before December, Mr Cowen said it would not.

“No, there won’t be an early budget, [Minister for Finance] Brian Lenihan has made that clear,” he said.

Asked if more than €3 billion in cuts could be called for, he said: “We have received no formal or informal indication from anybody that that would be expected of us.” The commitment was to “at least €3 billion” he said. Mr Cowen said the Government would be in touch with the European Commission “in due course” to indicate the broad outline of its financial strategy.

“The question of acceleration of deficit-reduction strategies depending on the circumstances of every country is not directed to Ireland because Ireland has made moves. Ireland has been commended even over this weekend for the moves we have made,” he said.

“As I keep emphasising, it doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods. But what it does mean is we have an agreement with them about the €3 billion reduction in 2011 and a further €3 billion in 2012. We will be in touch with the commission in due course as we always are, indicating what our strategy’s going to be in broad outline.” Mr Cowen said “domestic confidence” could be improved by acceptance of the Croke Park deal on public service pay and reforms.

“It’s a matter for union memberships now to consider with their own people on this. I think there’s a growing realisation on reflection that we do need the stability that this agreement can provide.

“We have to build domestic confidence in the country, as well as having the international credibility for some of our budgetary strategy. We have to get the country behind the process.”