European Commission president conferred with honorary degree at UCC

Ireland praised for the manner in which it responded to crisis and offers hope to other countries in bailout situations, he says

The European Commission has always been on the side of Ireland and will continue to stand by Ireland even now after it has exited the bailout programme, European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso said tonight.

Mr Barroso said that he had personally made the case to other European leaders for lower interest rates and longer maturities on Ireland’s loans during the EU/IMF bailout and he believed that commitments made by Euro area member states in June 2012 should be fully respected.

Speaking at University College Cork where he was conferred with an Honorary Doctor of Laws, Mr Barroso said that the European Union was today emerging from the worst financial, economic and social crisis since the start of European integration.

"Europe has been through testing times but the fundamentals are right and we know what we have to do. We have to correct the imbalances of the past and lay sound foundations for healthy, sustainable economic growth – our aim is a job rich future for young people," he said.

Many painful lessons had been learned including that growth fuelled by debt is artificial and unsustainable and that a common currency has to be backed strong co-ordination of economic budgetary policies if it is survive.

Many had predicted that the Euro area would break up but they had been proven wrong by states which had stuck together and supported each other while at the same time stepping up structural reforms in order to get on in today’s modern global, digital and competitive world, he said.

“We stuck together and it was thanks to European solidarity that we could help the most vulnerable countries inside and outside of the Eurozone, “ said Mr Barroso, adding that while some like to portray Europe as “obsessed with austerity”, budgetary responsibility was accompanied by solidarity

Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore who held a bi-lateral meeting with Mr Barroso after the conferring said that Ireland needs to re-inforce " the recent, hard-won and often still fragile stability that we have in the financial markets".

"Negotiations on Banking Union need to be completed. We need implementation of the Single Supervisory Mechanism and the Single Resolution Mechanism. And we need to have arrangements for direct bank recapitalisation. For Ireland in particular, this is unfinished business."

Earlier, UCC President Dr Michael Murphy in his citation for Mr Barroso's honorary degree, noted his contribution to the European Union when under his leadership, eleven new countries joined to create a global economic and political powerhouse of 500 million citizens.

He also paid tribute to Mr Barroso for his reform of the EU initially through the Treaty of Lisbon which has led to a union that is more efficient in its decision making and exhibits a more sustainable relationship between the Commission and the directly elected Council and Parliament.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times