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Rehn: €15bn Budget cuts programme could be revised

The European Commissioner says the four-year cuts target laid down by the EU could be tinkered with.

Olli Rehn has told opposition parties that the €15bn target for budget adjustments in the next four years could be adjusted depending on Ireland's performance.
Olli Rehn has told opposition parties that the €15bn target for budget adjustments in the next four years could be adjusted depending on Ireland's performance.
Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire

EUROPEAN ECONOMICS COMMISSIONER Olli Rehn has told Ireland’s opposition parties that the €15bn package of four-year budget cuts announced by the government last month could be negotiated, depending on how the economy performs.

Fine Gael’s finance spokesman Michael Noonan told reporters after meeting with Rehn – who is today meeting with reps from Fine Gael, Labour, Sinn Féin and the Greens – that the target could be adjusted in time if the economic recovery proceeds faster or slower than currently scheduled.

RTÉ reports that Noonan was told the EU would be closely monitoring Ireland’s economic performance and that the rate of growth could ultimately affect the overall figure of €15bn announced last month as being the required amount to budget deficit to within 3% of GDP, in accordance with the Union’s rules.

The declaration comes only three weeks after finance minister Brian Lenihan, who met with Rehn last night, ruled out the prospect of seeking an extension to the 2014 deadline laid down by Brussels.

At that time, Rehn had also ruled out giving the government extra time to comply with the budgetary rules, saying power to move the target deadline lay only with the union’s 27 finance ministers.

Joan Burton, Labour’s finance spokesperson, told the Irish Times that Rehn felt the deficit-cutting measures were “credible”, and that her party supported the 2014 goal, though Sinn Fein’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said that the target was “completely unrealistic and unachievable”.

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