Noonan writes to Rehn over Government's concern


DOCUMENT LEAK:MINISTER FOR Finance Michael Noonan has written to European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn, to express “concern” over the leaking of a document on Ireland to the German Bundestag.

“It’s a matter of concern to the Irish Government,” Mr Noonan told reporters in Brussels at the start of the EU Summit.

“It’s a European working paper, it’s not an Irish Government document. But the European Commission when they provide information on a confidential basis should ensure their procedures are sufficient to ensure confidentiality.

“I have written to Commissioner Rehn expressing the concern of the Irish Government and asking that he would review their practices and procedures to ensure confidentiality in future,” the Minister added.

He rejected a suggestion in the leaked document that a global economic slowdown might require further “fiscal tightening” on Ireland’s part. “I think all the authorities have agreed that we will achieve the 8.6 per cent [of GDP] as our fiscal target so it doesn’t arise that there will be further fiscal tightening,” he said.

He also rejected the suggestion by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton in the Financial Times that relaxation of the terms of the promissory notes to the former Anglo-Irish Bank could help ensure a Yes vote in the coming referendum.

“The Irish people are great respecters of their constitution and, on this as on other occasions, they want to be allowed consider the facts of the treaty and make a balanced judgment. They are not going to be subject to either coercion or inducement and we see the promissory note issue as a very important issue.

“We are negotiating it separately but we are not going to tie the two issues together: that would be an attempt to induce the Irish electorate to vote for a treaty.

“They must be allowed establish the facts in full and make a free and open decision on whether they vote Yes or No.”

But he warned that an Irish rejection of the treaty “would mean that you had one set of rules for 16 euro countries and another set of rules for Ireland and that certainly would present grave difficulties for us going forward”.

He added: “We wouldn’t have the backstop of between €500 billion and €750 billion that would be available for us to go back into the market”.

“The treaty itself,” Mr Noonan said, “is readily understandable for anybody who wants to read the 20 pages, so it is not as complex as Lisbon or Maastricht. It will be more difficult to import extraneous issues onto the table than it was in previous referendums, so the room for confusion by the opponents of the treaty is more limited.”

The German finance ministry said yesterday: “German law requires parliament to be involved and informed before any EFSF moneys can be disbursed. In order to fulfil this legal obligation, members of parliament require full documentation and information. The government, which has a duty to provide MPs with the information they require, very much deplores it whenever confidential information finds its way into the public domain.”