REHN OUTLINES MEASURES TO TACKLE DEBT CRISIS - EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn tells the Financial Times that the EU must ensure that the financial support mechanisms put in place last May are fit for purpose.

'The effective lending capacity of the current European financial stability facility should be reinforced and the scope of its activity widened,' he writes.

Mr Rehn also says Europe needs structural reforms to permanently boost jobs and productivity. He also tells the FT that the repair of Europe's banking sector must be completed to ensure credit reaches the real economy. 'Another round of bank stress tests will be conducted in the months ahead. We will draw lessons from the 2010 exercise and make these tests even more rigorous,' he says.

'Finally, the foundations of EU economic governance must be strengthened to pre-empt crises,' he concludes.


BANKS 'PLAN TO SCRAP FIXED RATES' - The Irish Independent quotes a mortgage expert as saying that banks and building societies are planning to abolish fixed-rate mortgages because they are too expensive for lenders to provide.

Banks would prefer to have borrowers on products with variable rates, which can be increased whenever lenders want, according to Karl Deeter of Irish Mortgage Brokers - who the paper says correctly predicted last year's rises in variable rates. He said he was getting indications from lenders that fixed rates may be discontinued this year.

The Indo says AIB will let an existing home-owner fix for three years at rates as low as 3.89%. This compares with a variable rate of 3.3%. But the swap rates (the market rate) that banks pay for money range from 7% for two years to 11% for five years.

The paper quotes Mr Deeter as blaming political pressure on state-supported banks including AIB, Bank of Ireland, EBS and Irish Nationwide for the fact that lenders were offering loss-making fixed rates.


IRELAND SETS OUT OPPOSITION TO EU TAX PLAN - The Irish Times says the Government is stepping up its campaign against imminent moves by the European Commission to introduce pan-European legislation on the taxation of business profits.

The paper says that 'undeterred by the weakness of its own negotiating stance in the wake of the EU-IMF bail-out', the Department of Finance has submitted a voluminous report to taxation commissioner Algirdas Semeta in which it sets out the potential for serious drawbacks from the development of a common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB).

The report, compiled by Ernst & Young, indicates that Ireland would rank among the biggest losers if a CCCTB becomes law in all or some EU states.

Under a mandatory CCCTB, it says, Irish gross domestic product (GDP) could drop between 1.5 and two percentage points, employment could fall by around one and a half percentage points and foreign direct investment (FDI) could decrease by about five percentage points. Only France, Belgium and Spain would benefit in such a scenario, the report argues.


DEVELOPER HARCOURT CUT POLITICAL DONATIONS - The Irish Examiner reports that political donations to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael from one of the country's biggest property developers totalled €3,700 last year as it posted pre-tax losses of €23.8m.

The paper says Harcourt Developments, owned by Donegal businessman Pat Doherty, donated €2,200 to Fianna Fáil last year and €1,500 to Fine Gael. It says this is a big drop from 2007 when it donated €10,250 to Fianna Fáil, €5,000 to the PDs, €4,000 to Fine Gael and €5,992 to the SDLP.

The company is obliged under the Electoral Act 1997 to disclose donations. Its board members includes former RTÉ presenter Mike Murphy and Andrew Parker Bowles, the ex-husband of Camilla Parker Bowles.

The Examiner says the company's turnover in the year increased from €138m to €140m. Pre-tax losses were up from €21.9m to €23.8m in the year to the end of December 2009.