German diplomat salutes Ireland's conduct of bailout


GERMANS HAVE "great admiration" and "deep respect" for the way Ireland has implemented the terms of its EU-International Monetary Fund bailout, one of Germany's top diplomats said yesterday on a visit to Dublin.

Emily Haber, who was speaking at Dublin think tank the Institute of International and European Affairs, noted that Germany was contributing €11 billion to Ireland's €67.5 billion international rescue package.

During the speech, which gave a German perspective on the future of Europe, Ms Haber said that if the EU did not now exist it would have to be invented.

She reaffirmed her country's deep commitment to European integration and said that there had been "overwhelming consensus" among the German political class on financing unpopular bailouts in the euro area.

Ms Haber is one of two state secretaries in Germany's foreign ministry, ranking immediately below the country's two deputy foreign ministers.

She acknowledged that there were criticisms of Germany, including that it was imposing its will in Europe and that it was profiting from the euro crisis.

However, she rejected these claims, along with those, made by some German tabloid newspapers, which asserted that Germany had been bearing the entire burden of the crisis.

A criticism of her country which the diplomat said she accepted was that Germany had in the past itself breached budget deficit rules.

This, she said, had undermined the Stability and Growth Pact, the rules governing public deficit and debt levels in the EU.

Germany's breaking of these rules almost a decade ago had contributed to generating the current crisis, she said.

Ms Haber described the finalisation last week of agreement on a massive writedown of Greek sovereign debt as a great advance for that country.

She did not allude to the costs to the State of bailing out banks or to the Government's ongoing campaign to reduce the burden of this debt.

The career diplomat described the euro crisis as one of the worst in the history of European integration.

Addressing the crisis would involve greater fiscal co-ordination, the diplomat said.

She did not discuss fiscal union or any aspect of the European Central Bank's role or mandate.

Ms Haber said that Europe was suffering a crisis of confidence which manifested itself in non-Europeans actively pondering the viability of the future existence of the EU.

This had contributed to a perception that Europe's influence in world affairs had declined, she added, and had allowed "authoritarian modernisers" to belittle Europe.