Before the referendum date was set, I said we would favour it not being held in the immediate aftermath of the French presidential election because it had the potential to cause uncertainty. This has happened to a certain degree and needs to be addressed. I ask the Taoiseach to give the House some clarity on the situation. It is fair to say that Mr. Hollande favours balanced budgets and fiscal rules but also wants to see a growth agenda. That is a welcome opinion and we in Ireland should welcome a stronger growth agenda across Europe. We have consistently called for that over the past 15 months. I believe the Taoiseach will agree that it need not have any implications for the stability treaty. However, it requires countries such as Ireland to speak up and back him on a far more ambitious agenda than we have had to date from the European leadership.
A special meeting of EU leaders is scheduled in two weeks' time. Between now and then I ask the Taoiseach to indicate to the House whether he will be lobbying for specific new growth measures in addition to the fiscal treaty. In particular will he support the call for a broadening of the mandate of the European Central Bank, the creation of infrastructure bonds via the European Investment Bank and the creation of euro bonds themselves? Are there specific issues relating to the growth agenda on which he will engage with other European leaders? Can the Taoiseach confirm that Mr. Hollande favours fiscal rules and balanced budgets? He is very clear that he does not want to change the key element of the establishment of a permanent funding mechanism for countries in need of support - the European Stability Mechanism. It has been suggested this morning that negotiations might begin to add to the treaty some specifics on the concept of growth.