Merkel confirms Berlin will not permit fiscal treaty alterations


CHANCELLOR ANGELA Merkel has said Germany will not allow any changes to the fiscal treaty, before or after the Irish referendum.

“Four countries have already ratified, so no change will happen,” said the chancellor’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert.

Yesterday Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore insisted there will be no changes to the fiscal treaty text on which the electorate will vote next Thursday.

“One of the issues that is very much out of the way is that somehow this treaty is going to be reopened or changed. The summit meeting made that very clear. The text of the treaty is what people are voting on and that is not going to change,” Mr Gilmore said in Belfast yesterday evening.

The Tánaiste said that from his experience of the referendum campaign he believed people understood “that it is important to have a stable euro, to have investor confidence, and to have access to emergency money”.

On their return home from Wednesday’s late-night Brussels summit Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore maintained that momentum was gaining behind a growth agenda.

The informal six-hour talks in Brussels concluded after 1am yesterday with a pledge to keep Greece in the euro zone, once it honoured its reform commitments.

Ahead of next month’s two-day summit, leaders agreed a timetable for talks on better integration of European labour markets.

Leaders gave a mixed reception to calls from summit debutant French president François Hollande for jointly issued eurobonds. Mr Hollande said he was not alone in backing the proposal for common sovereign bonds. German officials, opposed to the idea, said the French leader was in a clear minority.

“It makes no sense to paste over everything with eurobonds or other apparent instruments of solidarity,” said Dr Merkel in Berlin, “only to then find ourselves in an even more difficult situation in Europe”.

Germany’s own treaty ratification process remained uncertain after talks between Dr Merkel and the opposition failed to secure the two-thirds Bundestag majority. Meanwhile, Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy made his most direct appeal yet for European assistance to help drive down borrowing costs.