EU Council did not discuss Ireland in detail

Wednesday 29 June 2011 16.28
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Enda Kenny - Said Council welcomed Ireland's progress
Enda Kenny - Said Council welcomed Ireland's progress
Micheál Martin - Said the text was a big step backwards
Micheál Martin - Said the text was a big step backwards

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has told the Dáil that there was no detailed discussion of the situation in Ireland at last week's European Council meeting in Brussels.

But Mr Kenny said that the Council had welcomed progress made in Ireland's implementation of the reform programme.

He said he told French President Nicolas Sarkozy of the importance of the rate of Ireland's loan and that the corporation tax rate was not open for change.

The Taoiseach was speaking during Statements in the Dáil on the European Council meeting.

Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin said the Council meeting had not announced any significant new measures for dealing with the threat of sovereign debt default.

He said that many now describe the EU economic strategy as 'kicking the can down the road and hoping something turns up'.

Deputy Martin said the Taoiseach's approach was surprising - agreeing a text about Ireland's interest rate, which was a big step backwards.

He also asked Mr Kenny to publish a text tabled last March by EC President Herman Van Rumpoy, which Mr Martin claimed offered an acceptable compromise for applying a reduced interest rate to Ireland's loan without raising the rate of corporation tax.

The Taoiseach resisted the request, saying that conditionality was being imposed in the formula. He reiterated that he had not been prepared to agree to an increase in the corporation tax rate.

Mr Martin also argued that the Taoiseach has still not held a substantive bi-lateral meeting with a eurozone leader.

On the interest rate reduction, the Fianna Fáil leader later criticised the Taoiseach for not pushing harder, but agreeing that debt sustainability would be achieved simply by the implementation of the current programme.

Separately Nicolas Sarkozy named Francois Baroin as France's new finance minister, replacing Christine Lagarde who takes over as head of the IMF next week.