Kenny urges EU leaders to deliver on bank deal pledges
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has urged EU leaders to deliver on bank debt commitments to ensure Ireland emerges succesfully from its crisis "hurricane".
He told the World Economic Forum in Davos that such a deal was necessary because euro zone crisis mechanisms and tools available now were not available when the crash hit Ireland.
Progress on promissory note talks and legacy debt would, he said, deliver proof in 2013 that reform measures worked and that "if a government works with its people and understands the patience of people that ... results will flow".
"We were required to borrow €64 billion, a situation that was a crushing burden on our people," said Mr Kenny on a podium discussion alongside the Dutch, Danish and Italian leaders.
"Patience has been long and markets have factored in a conclusion to this situation for Ireland."
He told an international audience of political and business leaders and bankers that rescue funds invested in Ireland "had not been wasted", evidence by seven succesful progress reports by the troika.
Asked about British prime minister David Cameron's future of Europe speech, promising a referendum if re-elected in 2015, Mr Kenny noted that "five years is an eternity in politics"
London had been a driving force for important European initiatives including the single market, he said, but many British concerns - particularly on bureaucracy - "you can change from the inside".
"I don't speak for the British government," he said. "But the EU will be stronger if Britain remains part of that. I would like to see Britain remain central for the European Union."
Mr Kenny said he saw no opportunity at the moment to start a discussion on repatriation of powers back to national capitals.
However he said this could change if the banking union debate required European treaty change, though this would be a matter for the next European Commission and parliament after 2014.
"I am not concerned now with repatriation of powers," he said. "You can talk about these issues in terms of future treaty change if and when they arise."
Asked how he would feel if the European debate returned to centralised taxes, Mr Kenny said Ireland's corporate tax regime was "clear and transparent"
"Our tax regime is a national competence and it is not changing," he said.
With an eye on Ireland's EU presidency, Mr Kenny praised a "new sense of realism" within Europe. Cynics who predicted a euro breakup or eurozone exists had been proven wrong and leaders had exceeded expectations with a permanent bailout fund and a decision to break the link between banking and sovereign debt.
Ireland was determined to be an "honest broker" during its presidency to advance developments on this front. As proof of this, he cited swift agreement on a financial transaction tax at a finance minister meeting chaired by Ireland, even though it will not participate.
"It was the first item on the agenda, we dealt with it in 15 minutes without a vote so countries that support it could get on with it," he said.