GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER Wolfgang Schauble has declared himself “very impressed” by the progress Ireland is making in its recovery as he reiterated his government’s belief that the country is a “special case” when it comes to dealing with its debt burden.
Following a meeting with the Finance Minister Michael Noonan and the Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin at Farmleigh House in Dublin today, Schauble and the Irish ministers appeared at a short press conference to answer questions about their discussions.
The trio held a 40-minute long private meeting followed by discussions with officials from the the countries’ finance ministries. Noonan said the meetings were held in the context of Ireland’s European presidency next year.
“We’re all very impressed by the progress Ireland has made in the last couple of years,” Schauble told reporters afterwards saying that Ireland has acted as an example of how to fight the financial crisis which began four years ago.
Schauble declared himself “100 per cent” confident that Ireland will not require a second bailout.
He said: “I am totally confident that Ireland is on track and we have seen the last report of the Troika some months ago… no problem at all. And therefore I don’t even see a reason for this question.”
Legacy bank debt
But on the issue of legacy bank debt both the German finance minister and Noonan indicated that addressing this issue would not happen until late next year.
This is because of the need to set up a European banking supervisor before it can be determined whether or not the permanent eurozone bailout fund – the European Stability Mechanism – can be used retroactively to ease the burden of Ireland’s €64 billion bank debt.
Noonan said: “On the recapitalisation of banks, as Wolfgang Schauble said, we discussed it and he confirmed the position as stated in the joint communique last Sunday evening agreed between the Taoiseach and Chancellor Merkel and that should clear up any misunderstandings.”
He was referring to the statement issued by Angela Merkel and Enda Kenny over a week ago in which the pair said that Ireland is “a special case”.
They also “reaffirmed the commitment” to “examine the situation of the Irish financial sector with a view to further improving the sustainability of the well performing adjustment programme”.
Schauble reiterated this at the press conference today, saying: “Ireland is a special case and the eurogroup will continue to take this into account.”