EU's treatment of Ireland during financial crisis 'outrageous' - former European Commission advisor

Wednesday 07 May 2014 21.49
European authorities' treatment of Ireland was the 'very opposite of solidarity', according to Philippe Legrain
European authorities' treatment of Ireland was the 'very opposite of solidarity', according to Philippe Legrain

A former advisor to the European Commission has described the European Union's treatment of Ireland throughout the financial crisis as “outrageous”.

Philippe Legrain, who advised Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso in 2011 until last year, said Ireland's treatment amounted to "bullying" by the ECB and the EC.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Mr Legrain said it was a mistake for the previous Government to guarantee all Irish bank debts, but it was outrageous for the ECB to threaten to force Ireland out of the monetary union if it failed to do so.

He said the behaviour within Europe amounted to the “very opposite of solidarity” to treat a partner in a bullying way.

Mr Legrain claimed the bullying came mostly from Germany and France, whose banks were exposed in Ireland.

He said other European banks should have been forced to suffer losses, instead of straddling Irish citizens with an unfair debt burden of €64bn.

He said if Irish ministers had faced down the ECB, it would have backed down.

He said they should have said it was “unjust and unbearable” for Irish people to bear debts.

“The currency is supposed to be a community of equals, it's meant to be an expression of our common Europeaneness,” Mr Legrain said. 

“But instead of that it's being used as lever for banks in certain countries to impose unjust conditions on taxpayers in another country.”