I would like to welcome the approval by the European Commission of the AIB Restructuring Plan last week. The approval by the Commission is an important external validation that the plan contains a credible strategy to return AIB to profitability and a position where it can support the Irish economy in the years ahead. This view has been further reinforced by the announcement yesterday by AIB that the bank returned to profit during the first quarter of 2014, which was earlier than expected.
From the State's perspective the plan lays out a path that will ensure the Irish taxpayer ultimately can see a return of its substantial investment in the bank. It also brings to an end a period of uncertainty about what the future shape of the bank would look like which is important for all stakeholders including staff.
The Restructuring Plan includes a set of commitments which AIB will respect during the restructuring period, i.e. until the end of 2017. Those commitments comprise, among other things, targets on cost reduction and a ban on acquisitions. Moreover, AIB will operate "market opening measures" to facilitate the market entry of competitors, comprising a "services package" and a "customer mobility package".
The approval of the plan by the Commission has no impact on any efforts to achieve a deal on retrospective recapitalisation of AIB.