BRENDAN HOWLIN HAS admitted that securing a “better deal on debt” would improve the “background atmosphere” ahead of a referendum on the EU fiscal compact treaty.
Speaking to RTÉ Radio One this afternoon, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform said that “from the very first day” the Government has been working “in a determined way” toward a better deal on debt.
He told the This Week programme that the public announcement by the IMF on Friday was very helpful. Craig Beaumont, the IMF’s mission chief to Ireland’s said he was “optimistic” that a deal could be reached which would lessen Ireland’s debt burden. Howlin said the statement was not unplanned but actually a “product of months of careful discussion and engagement”. The Minister added that the IMF and European Commission are not organisations that respond to ultimatums.
Commenting on the referendum, Howlin said that although it is a question for the Irish people, Ireland’s eurozone partners will have an interest in the outcome.
However, the treaty is not dependent on Ireland, he added. “The stability treaty will happen when 12 countries ratify it.”
Speaking to the same programme earlier, European Parliament president Martin Schulz said the treaty is one element to solve the eurozone debt crisis.
He said stronger budget discipline is “unavoidable” but added that a growth and employment strategy is also needed.
Although Schulz recognised that “the people in Ireland had to pay an enormous amount of money to come out of the crisis” he said that the reduction of the debt burden is a completely separate issue to the treaty.
Admiring the discipline of the Irish nation, he said there should now be a “fair and just” financing of Ireland’s soverign debt within European institutions.
The ESM will be a “reasonable act of solidarity” which will lower the interest rates on borrowing, he explained.
Schulz repeated that the discipline and commitment of Ireland was “unique” but was clear that Ireland will not be given special treatment.
The European Parliament said he believes the referendum will pass with a majority. He would not speculate what could happen if the people vote no.
Schulz said he is available to campaign on behalf of the ‘yes’ side.