Kenny's Europe strategy criticised


Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been warned the “timid approach” of the Government in dealing with the EU fiscal crisis “must stop”.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told Mr Kenny: “You need to end your policy of sitting quietly on the sidelines refusing to speak directly when urgent needs are being ignored.”

“Wringing your hands about Germany is no substitution to setting out a policy and lobbying for it. Unless you actually try to work with others to persuade leaders to take a different approach you can achieve nothing.”

During a debate before the meeting this week of EU leaders, the Cork South Central TD said to Mr Kenny: “Stop talking about technical papers and set out what we think we need on promissory notes to return to market next year.

“Stop mumbling about vague ideas and set out clearly what reforms you think are the minimum required to save the Euro and end the crisis. Stop putting media spin ahead of the harder and more important work of pushing Ireland’s position.”

Mr Martin said the crisis in the EU was a systemic European problem and could only be tackled by “urgent, radical and systemic reform, none of which appears on the agenda of the European council meeting”.

Renewing his criticism of the Taoiseach’s approach to the crisis, he said what was “most incredible” was that after 18 months in office during a crisis threatening even more dramatic damage “you and your Government have yet to say exactly what your policy on Europe is”.

Mr Martin said they had never produced “a single document or speech setting out the reforms we want to see to the EU and euro zone. Instead, there are weak letters sent to other capitals before summit meetings in which you call for things which have already been agreed.”

Opening the debate Mr Kenny said he welcomed the recognition that the EU needed to move towards more integrated financial arrangements or banking union. He said he had long advocated this. “We need integrated banking supervision and common deposit insurance and resolution mechanisms.”

The Taoiseach said EU heads of state had gone a considerable distance towards greater fiscal integration, including through the "six-pack" of regulations and the fiscal treaty. A further tightening was now proposed “consistent with democratic legitimacy”.

Mr Kenny said the Government was awaiting the detail but that progress in this regard was explicitly linked to the future issuance of common debt.

He told the Dáil the Government also supported the idea of greater economic co-ordination, particularly between euro area countries.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams told the Taoiseach: “You cannot continue to sit on the sidelines and hope that other leaders will come up with growth proposals that are of benefit to us.”

Mr Adams said Europe’s leaders are failing and pointed to the restructuring agreement on Greek debt a year ago, adding: “One year on the situation is just as bad”.