Gilmore says State takes blame for EU problems


THE STATE had to shoulder its fair share of the blame for creating the EU’s serious difficulties, Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said yesterday.

“A profound failure of economic management during the boom, and a series of policy errors after the boom came to an end, have placed Ireland in need of external assistance. We have been the beneficiaries of European solidarity, without which we would have been unable to fund the State.’’

Mr Gilmore said the State was grateful for that assistance even if it had suffered a huge loss of effective sovereignty that would only be restored when it could once again pay its way in the world.

Mr Gilmore, who was giving the state of the union address to the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin, said that to the wider world, and to many of its own citizens, the ponderous pace at which the EU had addressed the sovereign debt crisis was incomprehensible. “The crisis has appeared to rumble on without sight of a comprehensive solution, and financial markets in particular have found this brand of policy-making deeply unsettling.’’

Mr Gilmore said that, having accepted its share of the blame for creating the problem, it should also be acknowledged that the State was now doing its part to contribute to a solution.

The Government had taken a series of decisive actions in respect of the banking system that had set the banks on course to recovery. The Irish people had also endured a massive fiscal correction to set our public finances on the right course.

“Our EU-IMF programme is on track, and we are demonstrating our willingness to take the necessary actions to restore Ireland’s creditworthiness. Of course that is something that we want to do for ourselves, but it should be acknowledged that in doing so we are contributing to solving what is also very much a European problem.’’

What was also important, said Mr Gilmore, was that in finalising a solution for Greece there was effective communication of the implications, if any, for other programme countries.

“Once again it is important for us to emphasise that Ireland’s programme is on track, and important for our partners to ensure that, along with a solution for Greece, we produce a clear and stable policy environment for programme countries.’’