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When Michael met Mario: Noonan in Frankfurt for bailout exit talks with ECB chief

Michael Noonan meets Mario Draghi for discussions on how Ireland will exit its international bailout programme on 15 December.

Mario Draghi with Michael Noonan in Brussels in 2012.
Mario Draghi with Michael Noonan in Brussels in 2012.
Image: Yves Logghe/AP/Press Association Images

FINANCE MINISTER MICHAEL Noonan is in Frankfurt, Germany today for talks with the president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, about Ireland’s expected bailout exit in December.

Noonan meets the ECB president a day after he held talks with the EU’s economics commissioner Olli Rehn in Strasbourg where Ireland’s likely exit from its international bailout programme on 15 December was discussed.

In a statement from the Department of Finance, the talks last night were described “constructive”, allowing Noonan and Rehn “to take stock of the state of play of the Irish adjustment programme and discuss issues related to the forthcoming programme exit”.

“Minister Noonan updated Vice President Rehn on the recent Budget and in particular Ireland’s plans to reduce the deficit to 4.8 per cent in 2014, well within the 5.1 per cent GDP target, and to deliver a primary balance or small surplus in 2014.

“Mr Rehn acknowledged the significant progress that Ireland has made over the course of the adjustment programme and that Ireland is now in a strong position to exit the programme this year.”

The main issue with Ireland’s bailout exit centres on whether or not it will need to apply for a precautionary credit facility to help ease the transition from bailout to raising money on the normal international lending markets.

Having the stopgap facility could help ease Ireland’s borrowing costs, but Noonan suggested at the Fine Gael national conference earlier this month that it may not be needed.

Rehn made similar noises the day before that speech by Noonan. Any discussions about the credit facility are likely to focus on what sort of conditions would apply to it.

But the Department of Finance was keen to outline the discretion Ireland has in relation to any credit facility, adding: “Ultimately, the final decision on post-programme options is one for the Irish authorities.”

Read: EU avoids its own shutdown after MEPs agree to fill €2.7bn funding shortfall

ESM chief: Recouping of AIB, BoI costs “either difficult or impossible”

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Hugh O'Connell

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