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European Council Meetings

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 3 July 2012

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Ceisteanna (30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

6Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if there is an informal European Leaders’ dinner arranged for an open exchange of views on how best to prepare matters for the June EU Council Meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22696/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

7Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if has been in contact with Prime Minister Cameron recently on EU issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23754/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

8Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach the issues he will prioritise at the EU summit meeting on the 28-29 June. [23869/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

9Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach if he will attend an informal meeting of heads of Government in the EU on 23 May in advance of the June European Council meeting. [23870/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

10Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach if he has submitted any proposals to the informal meeting of European Leaders on 23 May. [23871/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

11Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach the issues he intends to prioritise at the informal meeting of EU leaders on 23 May. [23872/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

12Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has received an agenda for the informal EU Council meeting on 23 May; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23873/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

13Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has submitted any items for discussion at the informal EU Council meeting on 23 May. [23874/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

14Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken to the President elect of France Mr Francois Hollande; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23879/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

15Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has been in contact with Ms Angela Merkel since Mr Francois Hollande’s election in France; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23880/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

16Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach the issues he intends to raise at the EU leaders’ summit on 23 May; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24035/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

17Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach if he intends to raise the issue of debt write down for Ireland at the EU leaders’ summit on 23 May; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24037/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

18Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach if he plans to raise the Troika policy of promoting privatisation or sale of State assets and natural resources particularly in programme countries at the EU leaders’ summit on 23 May; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24038/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

19Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has had discissions with Chancellor Angela Merkel since the Bundestag decided to delay ratification of the fiscal treaty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24817/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

20Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has he been in contact with the Spanish Prime Minister; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24820/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

21Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has any bilaterals planned for when he attends the informal EU Council meeting on 23 May 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24821/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

22Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has any bilaterals planned for when he attends the EU Council Meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24822/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

23Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has discussed EU growth issues with Prime Minister Cameron recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24827/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

24Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has met or sought a meeting with Prime Minister Juncker recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24986/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Patrick Nulty

Ceist:

25Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Taoiseach the job creation proposals and proposals for stimulus he will be bringing to the EU summit in Brussels on 23 May; the contact he has had with other EU Governments on proposals for job creation and an EU wide stimulus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25061/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joe Higgins

Ceist:

26Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Taoiseach the matters he intends to raise at the European leaders meeting on 23 May. [25360/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joe Higgins

Ceist:

27Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Taoiseach if he has had any contact with the new French President Francois Hollande. [25361/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

28Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has had discussions with President Van Rompuy recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26237/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

29Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if bank regulation was discussed at the EU Council meeting on 23 May or at any of the bilaterals he attended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26238/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

30Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach if he has met President Francois Hollande since his election; if he will report on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26281/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

31Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he plans to meet with President Hollande; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26438/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

32Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if there were any discussions about contingency at the informal EU Council meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27694/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

33Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he discussed reform of the ECB with Prime Minister Cameron recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27698/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

34Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he met with President Hollande at the recent informal EU Council meeting; if he will outline the matters discussed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27699/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

35Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has met with Prime Minister Monti recently; if they discussed areas of common interest; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27701/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

36Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach the proposals he tabled at the informal EU summit on 23 May. [27702/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

37Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach the bilateral meetings he held at the informal EU summit on 23 May. [27703/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

38Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach the contacts he has had with other EU leaders since the informal EU summit on 23 May. [27704/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

39Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach the contacts he has had with Francois Hollande since his election as President of France. [27708/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

40Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach the contacts he has had with the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy since his election as Prime Minister. [27709/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

41Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has discussed EU bank regulation at the informal EU Council meeting; if it is going to be discussed at the forthcoming EU Council meeting in June; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27710/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

42Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the June EU leaders meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28062/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

43Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has trips abroad planned other than EU Council meetings in this session; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28957/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

44Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the number of EU Leaders to whom he spoke on 31 May after the Fiscal Treaty referendum results were known; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28959/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

45Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the content of their discussion and response he had from Chancellor Merkel during their conversation on 31 May 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28960/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

46Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken to Prime Minister Cameron since 31 May, 2012; if so, the issues that were discussed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28961/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

47Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has requested a meeting with president Hollande; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28962/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

48Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken to Prime Minister Rajoy recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28963/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

49Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has requested a meeting with President Van Rompuy before the next EU Council meeting in June; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28964/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

50Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach the proposals he has tabled for the EU Summit on the 28 and 29 June in Brussels. [28968/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

51Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach if he intends to raise the issue of the Anglo promissory note at the EU summit on 28 and 29 June. [28969/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

52Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has sought a meeting with Chancellor Merkel to discuss the economic situation in the eurozone. [28971/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

53Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken to or requested a meeting with Prime Minister Monti; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30397/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

54Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has recently spoken to President Barroso in relation to any issues concerning Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30537/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

55Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach if he has had any contacts with the new Greek Prime Minster since the Greek Election. [30538/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

56Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he held any bilaterals at the June Council summit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32035/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

57Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he held any separate meetings before or after the EU Council dinner in June; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32036/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

58Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he met with President Barrosso in June; the matters that were discussed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32037/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

59Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if there were discussions regarding a fiscal union at the EU Council meeting in June; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32039/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

60Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if there were any discussions regarding tightening bank regulations at the June EU Council meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32040/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

61Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if there was any discussions regarding severing the link between sovereign debt and banking systems at the EU Council meeting in June; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32041/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

62Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if there was a discussion at the June EU Council meeting regarding Eurobond project; if any progress was made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32042/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

63Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if there were any discussions at the EU Council meeting in June regarding a Eurozone wide bank resolution mechanism to the crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32043/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

64Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has discussed protecting the International Financial Service Centre at any of the bilaterals he held during the June EU Council meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32044/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

65Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will outline the areas of growth and the actions that were and discussed at the June EU Council meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32045/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra
66.Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the areas of growth on which he spoke at the June EU Council meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32046/12]

Freagraí ó Béal (42 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 6 to 66, inclusive, together.

On a point of order, are we seriously expected to take 60 questions together?

That is a matter for the Taoiseach.

We have spent an hour dealing with five questions and now the Taoiseach is proposing to take 60 questions in ten minutes.

If they are on the same topic but worded differently, it is a matter for the Minister or Taoiseach to decide how to take them.

It is called Dáil reform.

These questions all pertain to the same subject. The amount of repetition is bad enough as it is but it would be even worse if I answered them individually because many of them are the same but phrased in different ways.

If we had Taoiseach's questions on two days of the week, as was the case in the past, we would not have this problem.

We changed that for good reasons.

Perhaps we should use the bit of time that is available to us.

To prepare discussions on the growth agenda for the European Council on 28 and 29 June, President Van Rompuy convened an informal dinner meeting on 23 May, which I attended, for an open exchange of views. The Government has consistently argued that for Europe to move beyond its current difficulties, measures to ensure stability must be complemented and supported by an equal focus on the growth and jobs agenda. Ireland has much to gain from this debate and we are playing a full and active part in it. I set out my thinking on this when I spoke to President Van Rompuy by telephone ahead of the meeting. As I have already made a statement to the House on the outcome of the 23 May meeting, I will merely give a summary of its findings.

While we did not adopt any formal conclusions, there was sufficient consensus to enable President Van Rompuy to identify a number of key themes and issues for the discussion. First, it was clear that all member states subscribed to the view that actions aimed at growth must complement rather than detract from efforts to ensure fiscal consolidation. Second, the process of structural reform through the Europe 2020 process must continue. Third, President Van Rompuy identified the following pillars of growth: mobilising EU policies to fully support growth, including making urgent progress on important legislative proposals such as the Single Market Act and the energy efficiency directive; stepping up our efforts to finance the economy through investments and better access to credit, especially for SMEs, including project bonds and increasing the capital of the European Investment Bank for financing projects; and job creation involving better synergy between European and national instruments, including Structural Funds, to combat youth unemployment in particular. At the end of our meeting we also had a discussion on eurozone developments, including with regard to Greece and Spain. There was strong support for Greece remaining a part of the eurozone and an equally strong wish to see it press ahead with implementation of its programme.

I had no formal bilateral meetings while at the informal European Council meeting on 23 May. With regard to my other recent bilateral contacts, I spoke by telephone to President Hollande on 9 May and congratulated him on his victory in the presidential elections in France. Our discussion focused on the stability treaty referendum and the reorientation of the European agenda towards a strong growth future. I also spoke to President Hollande on 1 June following the outcome of the stability treaty referendum.

As the House will be aware, I met Prime Minister Cameron in London on 12 March. In addition to our joint statement, we discussed a range of other issues over the course of our meeting, including the economy and Europe. We are both firm supporters of the Single Market and will continue to consult each other on key EU policy issues. We also discussed the most recent European Council and we strongly agreed that growth and jobs should remain at the centre of the EU's agenda. We briefly discussed the financial transaction tax and I repeated the Government's clearly held position that it could not be allowed to introduce competitive distortions. I updated Prime Minister Cameron on the stability treaty and on the referendum. I explained our position regarding our efforts to reduce the costs to the State as a result of promissory notes. I was pleased by his comments in support of our continuing efforts in pursuit of our economic recovery. I also met him at the British-Irish Council summit in Edinburgh on Friday, 22 June.

I spoke by telephone to Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Monti, Prime Minister Rajoy, President Van Rompuy and President Barroso on 1 June to convey the result of the referendum on the stability treaty. I wrote to the new Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. Antonis Samaras, to congratulate him on his success in the recent elections and to wish him and his new Government well in their endeavours. In addition, I met all my European Council colleagues, including Prime Minister Juncker, President Van Rompuy and President Barroso, at the European Council Summit meeting in Brussels on 28 and 29 June. As I will be making a full statement on the June European Council tomorrow, I will not go into detail now.

Conclusions for the June European Council were prepared in the normal way and Ireland set out its views and proposed amendments in the usual manner. Building on our work on 23 May, last week's meeting decided on a compact for growth and jobs, which is intended to provide a coherent framework for action at national, EU and euro area levels. This is a very welcome development. The Government has been actively working towards this for some time now. The compact has the potential to boost investment in the Union by approximately €120 billion, or 1% of GNI. This will be done through the mobilisation of the European Investment Bank, with €10 billion in extra capital, project bonds and the Structural Funds. The Government succeeded in ensuring the investment will be available to all member states, regardless of size.

The meeting also invited President Van Rompuy to develop further the ideas in his report, Towards a Genuine Economic and Monetary Union. This report set out the four essential building blocks for the future economic and monetary union, as follows: an integrated financial framework, an integrated budgetary framework, an integrated economic policy framework, and strengthened democratic legitimacy and accountability. President Van Rompuy will now develop, in close collaboration with the President of the European Commission, the president of the eurogroup and the President of the European Central Bank, a specific time-bound roadmap for the achievement of a genuine economic and monetary union. He will examine what can be done within the current treaties and which measures would require treaty change. Member states will be closely associated with and regularly consulted on these considerations. An interim report will be presented at the October European Council and a final report will issue by the end of the year.

Last week's European Council concluded the second European semester by endorsing country-specific recommendations. Leaders also addressed the external aspects of the EU's economic policy and considered how the EU can deepen its trade and investment relationships with key partners. In addition, the European Council also discussed the new multi-annual financial framework and took stock of progress in major justice and home affairs files, including Schengen governance and asylum, as well as nuclear energy, safety and security issues. Consideration was also given to the evolving situation in Syria.

A euro summit meeting took place after the discussion of 27 June on Thursday night into Friday morning. The outcome of this meeting was of particular significance, with leaders of the euro area affirming that it is imperative to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns, which is precisely what the Irish Government had sought going into the meeting. Towards this end, euro area leaders agreed that work should be advanced urgently on a single supervisory mechanism for banks, following which the ESM could be enabled to directly recapitalise banks. As Deputies will recall, this is something that the Government has sought for some time. In a development of great significance for this country and its taxpayers, it was agreed that the eurogroup will now examine the situation of the Irish financial sector with a view to improving further the sustainability of the well-performing adjustment programme. This work will start at the eurogroup meeting next week. Importantly, the principle that similar cases will be treated equally has been fully established and agreed. This was a vindication of the approach the Government has taken to negotiating with partners on lessening the load on the Irish taxpayer resulting from banking, including that arising from the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, IBRC, promissory note. It reflects the urgency of the need to deal definitively with the link between banking and sovereign debt as set out in the letter I wrote to my European Council colleagues ahead of last week's meeting. I am confident that what has now been agreed will be of significant benefit to Ireland and Irish taxpayers over the years to come.

I have not yet finalised plans for foreign visits outside of the European Council for the rest of this year, although I will attend the European Council meetings on 18 and 19 October and 13 and 14 December.

It is ludicrous that we are taking Questions Nos. 1 to 65 together. We should return to a position of having Taoiseach's questions on two days, Tuesday and Wednesday, as was the case until the Taoiseach arbitrarily decided to reduce the number to one day.

On the summit meeting, I concur with the Taoiseach that the decision to break the link between the sovereign and bank debt is welcome, although much more remains to be revealed. The devil will be in the detail or, as Colm McCarthy wrote this morning: "The devil is in the principles." Clearly, the position in Italy and Spain is critical and Prime Minister Mario Monti basically had to cry halt. He went into the summit meeting and called a halt to the Italian situation and received the backing of Prime Minister Rajoy. In fairness to President Hollande, he supported both Prime Ministers. The fundamental issue was the separation of sovereign and banking debt but, more than that, the need to take decisive action to save the euro. From the Irish perspective, the latter is the most important outcome of the summit. It is worth saving the euro.

The Finnish and Dutch Governments have voiced concern about the element of the agreement which suggests the European Stability Mechanism may buy bonds on the secondary market. Colm McCarthy notes that, in essence, this means the European Central Bank is being replaced with a buyer whose balance sheet constraint is known, which is a retrograde step. The Dutch and Finns are not trying to be awkward or opposing the outcome of the summit but expressing legitimate and rational concerns that this may not be the best route forward. While some useful decisions were taken, it is their view that the crisis will prevail until the central question is addressed, namely, how does one develop a lender of last resort - my party has consistently argued that the ECB should be the lender of last resort - in order that one has a mechanism, either the ECB or an agency thereof, that is decisive and can take action with conviction on the bond market. That issue remains to be decided upon. The ESM buying on the secondary market has not worked thus far and is unlikely to work in future given that it only has some €500 billion at its disposal.

I do not agree that the devil is in the principle here. The principle was very clear. As Deputy Martin knows, the European Council discussed, decided, agreed and signed off on its conclusions. The page in respect of the euro area summit statement is very clear: "We affirm that it is imperative to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns." This principle, which had not been accepted before, has been agreed and decided. As I stated, nothing was agreed until everything was agreed. In respect of the ESM, I note the comments of the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, and the Finnish Prime Minister, Jyrki Katainen, both of whom spoke at the meeting in regard to their views on this matter. However, this is what was agreed and signed off on. We now have a great deal of work to do on the detail of working out the implementation of this principle, what that means in respect of the ESM and how it can be adapted here.

Does the Taoiseach believe it is a good idea that the ESM will buy on the secondary market?

As the Deputy will be aware, the statement notes the following: "We affirm our strong commitment to do what is necessary to ensure the financial stability of the euro area, in particular by using the existing EFSF/ESM instruments in a flexible and efficient manner in order to stabilise markets for Member States respecting their Country Specific Recommendations and their other commitments including their respective timelines, under the European Semester, the Stability and Growth Pact and the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure." As we are in a programme, our country-specific recommendation is to continue with our programme. That is the conditionality attached to us, with which we intend to deal. The breaking of that principle is important for us. The anxieties or concerns of the Dutch and Finnish Prime Ministers were expressed at the meeting but the meeting signed off on the-----

Is it a good idea that the ESM will buy on the secondary market?

We can discuss the detail when we have statements in the House tomorrow.

It is clear that Spain has had a problem for some time. Spain's formal request under the ESF for €62 billion and a cushion of up to €100 billion for its banks clearly presents a challenge for Prime Minister Rajoy in respect of dealing with his country's deficit while borrowing at rates of almost 7%. Prime Minister Monti discussed with me on the telephone last week before I went to the meeting the virtuous circle of which Italy is a member, given that it has to roll over €20 billion in loan repayments every month, which is an enormous challenge. The meeting, in its discussions, decided that nothing was agreed until everything was agreed. The process of the meeting was to start with different segments, including the jobs and growth agenda, multi-annual financial frameworks and a report from Denmark, before moving into the discussions on the eurozone.

We all accept that the decision to recognise the necessity to break the vicious cycle between banks and the sovereign is long overdue and very welcome. I have a couple of questions on the turn of events which the Taoiseach described as "seismic". Who wrote the reference to this State? The view articulated in this reference is that there will be a review. There is also an inference that while the level of debt is sustainable, sustainability needs to be improved, and it is asserted that the programme of adjustment is performing well, which will be news to people who are struggling under the agenda of cutbacks. I find some of the language worrying and would like to know who wrote the reference and what collaborative process was involved.

What does the decision to unhitch the burden of bank debt from the sovereign and people mean in respect of the promissory note and Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide? The Minister for Finance has made clear it will not mean anything in respect of the next budget. Much has been said about the stimulus package, investment in jobs and so forth. The new money in the package amounts to only €10 billion. With 25 million people unemployed across the European Union, €10 billion by any stretch is not seismic or earth-shattering.

Is it not the case that European leaders were staring into the abyss last week and had to produce something new or face going over that abyss? Is it not also the case that when one examines the detail or lack thereof in the so-called breakthrough, there is good reason to believe it may be something of an accountancy trick, especially in light of the statement by the Minister for Finance immediately after the great declaration that there will not be any easing of the burden of austerity to be imposed on people this year? Moreover, given that we own the banks, does shifting the burden from the sovereign to the banks not mean re-imposing it on citizens in another form?

The European Stability Mechanism, the fund that is supposed to bail out the European banks, has a capacity of only €500 million and it is estimated that the hole in the Italian and Spanish banks alone is €2 trillion. Does this not guarantee that Ireland will have to fork out the entire €11 billion called on this country under the ESM to bail out these banks? We do not know the size of the hole in the rest of the banks. One of the major problems in Europe and Ireland at present is the failure of the banks to lend and to put credit into the system. Is it not the case that shifting this burden from one place on the accountancy balance sheet to another will simply mean those banks we have recapitalised will be even less likely to invest and lend into the economy-----

-----after all the money that has been poured into them? Therefore, this will do next to nothing to stimulate economic growth or the job creation that would be something one could really celebrate.

I refer to the sentence, "The Eurogroup will examine the situation of the Irish financial sector with the view of further improving the sustainability of the well-performing adjustment programme". Apart from being a commendation of the savage austerity imposed by the troika, does this mild aspiration in any way justify the elation expressed by the Taoiseach following the summit meeting? I appreciate the Taoiseach probably was seriously sleep-deprived and perhaps a little disorientated-----

That is not fair.

He is not the only one suffering from that complaint.

-----but that elation was carried into the pages of much of the capitalist press. What justification is there for such elation? Will the Irish people as a whole be responsible for a euro less as a result of this sentence? Second, on foot of this agreement, what will happen to the approximately €30 billion that has been put on the shoulders of the Irish people to salvage Anglo-Irish Bank ? Will this €30 billion now come from the European Stability Mechanism, ESM? Must someone pay back that to the ESM and, if so, is that the Irish people?

On Deputy McDonald's question as to who wrote this, she will recall I wrote to all the leaders some weeks ago setting out the position. Ireland was the first country to suggest the ESM should be licensed for direct injections into banks, an idea which then became common currency. Before attending the meeting, I made clear there was a twin objective in this regard. The first was to reach a conclusion on the growth agenda, which was highlighted by President Hollande during his election campaign, and which was agreed. The second objective was there should be a response to the banking crisis with particular reference to the legacy debt problem faced by Irish families and communities. In that regard, I refer to the acceptance of the principle about which I spoke last week in this Chamber, namely, if one had European direction and European liability, that needed a change in respect of what happened in Ireland where there was a direction with the liability being taken on by the Irish people and Irish families.

I pay tribute to the group of officials from all the countries who reflected on the clarity of Ireland's case, which resulted in Ireland being one of only two countries mentioned in the euro area summit statement in order to avoid any opportunity for not understanding what this was. Deputy McDonald was on a different side during the referendum campaign but I must tell her that the decision of the Irish people, in its clarity and decisiveness, certainly was credit in the bank for Ireland, to use a pun, with regard to the manner in which other leaders considered our problem and our country.

In that sense, there was a willingness to understand the challenge and the difficulty our people have had in shouldering that liability in recent years, as well as the acceptance that breaking this would lead to a particular relevance for our country, as it has.

So, Irish officials wrote the Irish reference. That is what I was getting at. I was not talking about the entire statement.

Sorry Deputy, please, through the Chair.

I apologise, a Cheann Comhairle.

My point is a group comes forward with agreed papers. It is not a case of one person dictating what goes into it at a particular point. These groups of officials present papers to leaders, who then decide on the principles and the detail eventually is worked out. I note that before we ever got to that meeting, the Government had made it perfectly clear what was the Irish position. As I told Deputy Martin in response to a question earlier, we seek a top line, rather than a bottom line, namely, the maximum benefit for the country.

Deputy McDonald also mentions the promissory notes. All that information and all the discussions that have taken place will now feed into the process which the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, will lead from next Monday, 9 July. As the Deputy is aware, the last line of the statement states, "We task the Eurogroup to implement these decisions by 9 July 2012." That is impossible and the process will start at that point. However, I hope it can be concluded within a relatively short time.

Deputy Boyd Barrett mentioned the ESM and the promissory notes, which feeds into that discussion. There is a case before the courts at present in respect of the ESM and I do not wish to make any comment about its outcome because I understand the justice will give her decision before 9 July-----

That is not what I asked about.

-----which would allow for Ireland, in whatever circumstances, to be able to attend the first meeting of the ESM.

I asked about the €11 billion.

This is good news for the country and represents an opening of the doors of potential.

Deputy Higgins mentioned being disorientated at 5 a.m. I have never suffered from that but were I disorientated, I would have begun to talk about travel expenses. Moreover, I might tell the Deputy the only evident elation was the buoyancy in the markets, which reflected the decision of the European Council and which is in Ireland's interest.

Would the Taoiseach care to discuss the €4.5 million Fine Gael received in public funding last year?

I hope such a progression will continue, whereby there has been a serious fall in interest rates for Ireland, as others consider us from abroad and conclude this is a country that is making steady progress in difficult conditions. As the Deputy is aware, markets anticipate and feed into their investment decisions how they view countries in respect of political stability, in the context of the engines to drive their economies and the decisions that are being made. Consequently, there was no disorientation. Here was an understanding of a major decision made by Europe, which opens a door for this country on which I hope we can build. If the Deputy has even a single constructive suggestion to make, I would be delighted to hear from him.

For a start, I would not run to the sharks in the markets. Moreover, I remind the Taoiseach that Fine Gael received €4.5 million from public funds for his party last year.

The Deputy has been encouraging sharks all his life.

As Gaeilge nó Béarla.

Written Answers follow Adjournment.

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