Ireland still facing monitoring by EU and ECB after bailout exit

Friday 15 November 2013 18.26
Jeroen Dijsselbloem says decision has yet to be reached on how long EU scrutiny would last
Jeroen Dijsselbloem says decision has yet to be reached on how long EU scrutiny would last

EU officials have confirmed that Ireland will continue to face monitoring following the state's exit from the EU-IMF bailout programme.

This is despite the decision by the Government not to seek a precautionary credit line from the EU and IMF.

Under rules agreed at the height of the euro crisis, Ireland will still be subject to post-programme surveillance which will include regular review missions.

They could also - in certain circumstances - lead to member states asking the Government to take "corrective measures" in terms of economic policy.

It is understood that the exact application of the rules to Ireland's situation will be worked out by officials in the coming weeks.

The rules are enshrined in the so-called Two Pack, a regulation introduced in 2011 to increase budgetary scrutiny for all euro zone member states.

Under the rules, any member state which has been through a bailout programme will be subject to surveillance so long as a minimum of 75% of the bailout funds have not been repaid.

The European Commission will conduct "regular review missions" in liaison with the ECB.

Every six months the Commission will then communicate its findings to the economic and monetary affairs committee of the European Parliament as well as the EU's Economic and Financial Committee, a body made up of senior officials from national administrations and central banks, the ECB and the Commission.

The findings will also be presented to the Dáil.

If the European Commission identifies risks within the Government's economic policies it could urge the 28 finance ministers to ask Ireland to take "corrective measures".

The "Two Pack" rules also provide for the Dáil to seek an exchange of views with both the European Commission and with the economic and monetary affairs committee of the European Parliament on the surveillance programme.

The head of the euro zone finance ministers group, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, said a determination had yet to be reached on how long such scrutiny would last, or what precisely would be involved.

He made the comments after euro zone finance ministers issued a statement saying they fully supported yesterday's decision by the Government to exit its bailout programme without requesting any further financial help.

The finance ministers congratulated the Irish authorities for successfully implementing the EU-IMF programme, and also commended the Irish people for their efforts and achievements in what are described as very difficult circumstances.

At a news conference in Brussels last night, Mr Dijsselbloem and EU's economic chief Olli Rehn both said Ireland was an example as to how such a programme can work and should work.

The head of Europe's bailout fund, Klaus Regling, said his staff would also be assessing, on an ongoing basis, Ireland's ability to pay back its debts.

Ireland is set to emerge from its bailout on December 15.