Deal on Greek debt will not benefit Ireland, say EU ministers

Euro-zone finance ministers reject Republic’s appeal for further debt concessions

Simon Coveney: suggested Ireland should get similar treatment to Greece in terms of debt concessions. Photograph: The Irish Times

Simon Coveney: suggested Ireland should get similar treatment to Greece in terms of debt concessions. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Calls by members of the Government for further debt concessions for Ireland in the event of a renegotiation of the Greek bailout have been dismissed by the powerful euro group of euro-zone finance ministers ahead of a key meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.

Comments by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney suggesting that Ireland should get similar treatment to Greece in terms of debt concessions provoked a strong reaction in Brussels on Monday, with senior euro zone sources telling The Irish Times that a deal for Ireland was not on the table.

A senior euro zone source said the prospect of a renegotiated deal for Ireland was being “excluded” from ongoing negotiations on the stalled Greek bailout.

Different standards

The Irish Times

“Everybody wants to be helpful to Greece here, but we can’t apply a different standard to Greece just because they have a new government who are making demands,” Mr Coveney said.

“What we are saying is let’s be realistic about what is possible. Ireland like other countries will try and be helpful as we can but I think we have to be firm that the same approach and the same standards have to apply to Greece as to every other country that has found themselves in difficulty over the last number of years.”

The Minister urged Greece to follow a strategy similar to Ireland’s renegotiations on reducing the country’s debt burden. “The example of how the world views Ireland’s debt management now is in the cost of funds for us,” he said.

“I think we are in a very good place, so the approach that Greece should take should be along those lines.”

Mr Coveney said that he had absolute faith in Minister for Finance Michael Noonan “to be helpful but at the same time to operate within acceptable parameters”.

Meanwhile, Mr Noonan cancelled a planned visit to the Gulf States with the National Treasury Management Agency to meet potential investors in Irish sovereign debt, in order to attend tomorrow’s emergency meeting in Brussels.

All 19 finance ministers of the euro area, including Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, will meet on the eve of a summit of EU leaders which is expected to be dominated by the Greek standoff as well as the crisis in Ukraine.

In a sign of mounting international anxiety about the situation in Greece, British prime minister David Cameron held a meeting with senior treasury and Bank of England officials to discuss contingency plans for a possible Greek exit from the euro zone.

Bridging loans

Alexis TsiprasVienna

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker also toughened his language, warning the Greek government not to assume that the euro zone would simply accept the promises made by Mr Tsipras to his electorate regarding economic reforms.