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Barroso: 'We can see light at the end of the tunnel'

The President of the European Parliament affirms, however, that MEPs will probably not pass the EU’s draft seven-year Budget.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE PRESIDENT of the European Commission has said he sees “light at the end of the tunnel” in Ireland’s difficult journey towards eliminating its budget deficit.

Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters in Dublin he was confident that Ireland would be able to permanently escape the EU-IMF bailout and return to independent financing on the money markets later this year.

Speaking after a meeting with the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and his European Parliament counterpart Martin Schulz, Barroso said he was mindful of the difficulties that the Irish public had faced in facing austerity measures aimed at eliminating the deficit.

“There are still huge difficulties to face and I have the greatest respect for the sacrifices made,” he said, after offering: “We are not suggesting things are easy – not at all.”

Barroso said Ireland offered a positive example for other countries which were facing the difficult challenge of imposing austerity.

“For other parts of Europe also where people are debating fiscal policies. Ireland can show, ‘Yes, it is a way that can bring results’ – provided it is implemented seriously and with determination,” he said.

Speaking at the same event, Schulz said he was “deeply impressed” by the way in which Irish people had responded to six consecutive austerity budgets, and “by Irish people who put up with sacrifices to come out of crisis”.

“Europeans should not forget that the Irish people avoided – with a lot of burdens on their shoulders – a crash of the whole European system,” the German MEP said.

“Ireland needs the EU to keep the promises it made to the country.”

He added, however, that the ‘Multi-Annual Financial Framework’ – the seven-year EU budget which Ireland is now responsible for transposing into European law – would face a significant roadblock when it went to the European Parliament for approval.

While he said he did not want to pre-empt the result, he said many of the European Parliament’s suggestions for the budget had been disregarded – meaning the deal agreed by EU leaders last month would probably not be popular enough to be passed by MEPs.

Additional reporting by Sinéad O’Carroll

Read: Speaking in Dublin, EC President urges Europe to ‘choose growth’

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Gavan Reilly

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