THE ERA of Ireland’s annual Budgets being announced in December has come one step closer to ending, after a European deal reached this morning.
Representatives from the Council of the EU – currently chaired by Ireland, under its presidency – reached an agreement with the European Parliament and European Commission about the introduction of a series of financial governance measures known as the ‘two-pack’.
The regulations include one programme of special measures for countries in an ‘excessive deficit procedure’ – the EU’s programme of financial adjustments for countries with large budget deficits – and another for countries participating in bailouts.
Among the proposals in the two-pack is the idea that every member state would submit its Budget to the European Commission for its scrutiny in October every year, to ensure that it meets the conditions of the Stability and Growth Pact from 1999.
Michael Noonan has previously said that this will mean Ireland will either have to formulate a draft Budget in October, to be sent to the Commission in Brussels for its oversight, or bring forward the Budget entirely.
He has suggested that the Irish political culture means a draft Budget would not withstand two months of attack from lobby groups, and commented that bringing forward the Budget to October would appear a more sensible option.
Countries which do not propose Budgets in keeping with their obligations would face a veto from the European Commission, and in some cases could lose their funding under European social and cohesion funds.