EU discusses Ireland's bank guarantee scheme

Monday 06 October 2008 20.55
Micheál Martin - No 'free ride' for banks
Micheál Martin - No 'free ride' for banks

The European Competiton Commissioner has said some fine tuning of Ireland's bank guarantee scheme could make it fully compliant with EU law.

Tonight Commissioner Neelie Kroes is meeting the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan in Luxembourg.

Ireland has faced what has been described as muted criticism at a meeting there of Euro zone finance ministers.

The finance minsters are meeting tonight to discuss plans for a more co-ordinated approach to the banking crisis, ahead of a full meeting of EU finance ministers tomorrow.

More countries have taken actions to stabilise their banking industries today, while the French EU Presidency issued a statement in the name of all the 27 countries, stating their intention to work together to address the problems of the banking sector.

Today Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin defended the decision to guarantee deposits in the six big Irish banks, insisting the measure was not disproportionate given the circumstances.

'This is not a free ride for the banks; there is a commercial rate to be paid for the guarantee,' he told reporters in Brussels before addressing a European parliamentary committee.

'It is difficult to understand how anyone could judge our actions to be disproportionate at a time when by any definition we are now entering unchartered territory,' he added.

Today it emerged that a total of eight foreign-owned banks have applied to join Ireland's state guarantee scheme.

The latest names to join the list are Postbank, a joint venture with An Post and Europe's Fortis, Belgian owned IIB Bank and Dutch owned ACC.

The Taoiseach has also rejected criticism by other EU member states of the Government's bank guarantee scheme.

Mr Cowen said last week's move to guarantee the deposits and loans of Irish banks was 'essential'.

Mr Cowen earlier said banking institutions need to revisit lending practices.

Brian Cowen said the situation in the past - where a lot of credit was available - will not be the case in the future.

He said tighter credit criteria is needed because of a lack of confidence in accessing funds for lending. He added that change for everyone is needed in order to adapt to a new economic situation.

Mr Cowen said a lot of work needs to be done in the weeks and months ahead in order to encourage growth and return to a more stable financial situation. Ireland is not out of the woods on the economic front, he said.

Brian Cowen was speaking after he addressed a national forum on children affected by HIV and AIDS.