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Chair of EP delegation says that Ireland is on the right track and the era of surprises is over

A senior delegation of MEPs from the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee concludes its visit to Ireland today.  Having met with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin TD, the Governor of the Central Bank, Mr Patrick Honohan, members of a Special Committee of the Dáil and key representatives of the institutions in charge of economic, financial and monetary matters in Ireland, the Chairperson of the Committee, Sharon Bowles MEP said that 'Ireland has the recipe to respond to the economic and banking crisis, but is being treated harshly by its EU partners. The delegation had a sense of things being on the right track and that the Government has taken ownership of the situation.'

Ms Bowles went on to say that 'I am outraged by the conditions imposed on Ireland, particularly as regards the interest rate on the loans. While Ireland is coping with the terms imposed, a lower interest rate would mean a faster recovery which is surely in the interests of the EU and the ECB as well as Ireland. Of the three countries in programs, Ireland is performing best in class, so to suggest corporation tax measures in return for an interest rate reduction is simply spiteful.  

'We should not underestimate the scale of the resentment of Irish citizens about the banking debt and the burden that has been imposed them, especially the part that is aiding stability of the banking sector in the EU. Surely the deal is that Ireland took one for the team by bailing out the banks as demanded by the ECB, and in return there are loans. The lending countries are not giving money away and I see no reason why they should turn a healthy 3% profit from it when it helps them too.

The delegation had the opportunity to have in-depth discussions about the comprehensive measures taken to fix the problems in the banking sector. She said 'We now know more about Irish banks than in other member states and the markets should take note that the era of surprises is over.

'For the future it is essential to have a proper EU crisis resolution mechanism for banks in the EU that operate cross border and takes away all these beggar thy neighbour aspects.

Apart from the crisis in the banking sector, members of the delegation discussed a wide range of issues and took note, in particular, of the concerns expressed, both by the Government and by the Irish parliament, with regard to EU plans on corporate taxation.

The Chairperson underlined that 'from what we have heard here in Ireland, there is a strong commitment at all levels towards restoring confidence in the country's ability to solve the current crisis and return to economic growth.  In this regard, Ireland would be helped if the ECB could give firmer commitment to medium term funding rather than repeated rollovers every 14 days. Such measures would help prevent contagion from uncertainty about Greece.'

During the visit, the delegation met with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, the Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, the Head of Financial Regulation at the Central Bank, the Chief Executive of the National Treasury Management Agency, the Chief Executive of the Irish Banking Federation, members of a Special Committee of the Dáil (Irish Parliament), representatives of the Economic and Social Research Institute, the General Secretary of ICTU, the Director of the National Economic and Social Council and the Director General of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation.

1.  The Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee is the primary committee involved in realising the European Parliament's legislative responsibility in key areas such as the revision of rules relating to financial regulation, in the context of the current financial crisis; European Monetary Union and issues relating to the eurozone; the EU's competition policy; and the EU's policies in relation to taxation and coordination in that area.

2.  On Friday, 27 May, the Committee's Chairperson, Sharon Bowles MEP will address the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin (, under the title 'EU Financial and Economic Legislation - Pulling in the same direction?'


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