Noonan says Ireland favours debt restructuring for Greece

Minister says there are several options on reprofiling and restructuring Greek debt

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan says that Ireland is in favour of Greece restructuring their debt. Video: EU Council

 

Ireland is in favour of debt restructuring for Greece, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said.

Speaking on his way into today’s key meeting of finance ministers in Brussels, Mr Noonan said there were “several options on re-profiling and restructuring debt” that could be explored. “[Debt restructuring] has always been part of the discussion,” he said.

“I have said here on several occasions that the Greek government should follow the example of the approach we took in Ireland and restructure the debt,” noting that Ireland had extended loan maturities, reduced interest rates, a re-engineering of the Anglo Irish promissory note and refinanced €18. 5 billion of IMF loans.

“So there are several options on reprofiling and restructuring debt ... I am prepared to look at the Greek proposals.”

He rejected claims Ireland had taken a “hardline approach” to Greece in negotiations.

“I’ve been involved in the principle meetings in Greece and have never had a hardline approach to Greece. I’ve always said Ireland wants Greece to stay in the eurogroup and we’re prepared to negotiate and we see restructuring of the debt as part of the negotiation. That’s still my position.”

Mr Noonan said he expected the new Greek finance minister to present the proposals that will be submitted by Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras at the summit of euro zone leaders later today to the eurogroup.

“I don’t think we’re looking at a conclusion today, but I hope there is proper engagement.” He said Greece needed a medium-term fiscal plan to return the country to sustainable economic growth.

“I don’t think any of us want to kick the can down the road for another month or two, we want a proposal that will carry for several yrs and hopefully get Greece on a path to growth again.

I’ve always said we want Greece to stay in the eurogroup and to do that we need a growing economy in Greece and I would hope that a medium term sustainable l programme would position Greece for growth and job creation again.”

Also speaking on his way into today’s meeting, Finnish finance minister Alex Stubb said while he wanted to keep Greece within the euro, “conditionality” could not be softened.

“We respect the result of the referendum, the door for negotiations remains open but at the same time conditionality is not going to be softened,” he said.

Noting Finland’s financial commitments to Greece he said Finland “required” conditionality.

“Finland has commitments to Greece of over €5 billion, our annual budget is €50 billion, our GDP is €200 billion. If you look at the percentages, 10 per cent of our budget is committed in one way or another to Greece.

“Approximately 2.5 per cent of our GDP is committed to Greece. If we do that we require and request conditionality, it’s as simple and straightforward as that.

Finland is one of up to six euro zone members that may need parliamentary approval for a further loan package for Greece.

In a sign that a compromise may be reached today, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told the European Parliament in Strasbourg that “throwing Greece out of the euro” is not something anyone wanted.

“And as that is the case the European Commission will continue to work towards a reopening of negotiations with Greece,” he told the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

“We have to put our little egos, and in my case very large ego, away and we have to deal with the situation we face.”