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European Council Brussels: Statements (Continued)

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 4

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Deputy Seán Crowe: Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe The IMF made a statement during the week on meeting its deadlines. The subtext was that austerity is not working throughout Europe. Was there any sense of this growing reality among the European leaders at the Council meeting and were there discussions on the social cost of austerity?

The Taoiseach mentioned a meeting on Syria that took place in Marrakesh, attended by the Minister of State, Deputy Joe Costello, who suggested extending an invitation to the Syrian opposition coalition. Is there any indication the coalition will accept that invitation? Prior to the meeting there was discussion of the situation in Palestine, in particular in regard to the proposed 3,000 new settlements. Was there any discussion or agreement on that matter?

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has suggested Britain is considering leaving the European Union and a statement is due in January in this regard. Did this matter come up at any of the side meetings? There would be a negative impact on Ireland, especially in the Border region, given the difficulties involved.

Deputy Adams asked the Taoiseach to raise the de Silva report on the killing of Pat Finucane. Did that issue arise as part of the discussions? Was it raised with the British Prime Minister?

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I refer first to Deputy Martin's question. It is not the case that 98% of banks are excluded from the single supervisory mechanism. The mechanism will cover the vast majority of European banks, some 90% all told, according to some estimates. The misunderstanding concerns the direct supervision by the ECB-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is the point.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore There are a number of categories. Some banks have assets of more than €30 billion. There is also the agreement that the three largest banks in each member state will be covered. Some banks have assets greater than 20% of their country's GDP, while there are others in trouble. The last-named have been identified as those that will come directly under supervision.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is only when they get into trouble. That is the point.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Yes, that is right.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin They are only covered if they get into trouble.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Deputy is missing the point. I refer to direct supervision. The supervisory mechanism will embrace the entire supervisory system of the European banks. We need to stand back from this. Initially there was a great deal of scepticism about it. First, there were those who said there would never be agreement to separate bank debt and sovereign debt or to allow for the ESM to recapitalise banks. Despite the scepticism agreement was reached in June that this would be done. Then there were those who argued there would be a pull-back from that position in October; there was not. Instead there was a commitment that the legislative framework would be put in place by the end of the year, and this has now been agreed. The second two elements of banking union, namely, the bank resolution issues and the deposit guarantee scheme issues, are to be proceeded with in the early part of 2013. Far from undermining progress on banking union, progress is taking place. That is something we must welcome, first, from the point of view of the European banking system and, second, because of our own interest in the issue.

I refer to the discussions on the ECB. We must return again to the formula agreed in June, which was that the Eurogroup would take it forward, the situation in the Irish financial institutions would be addressed on its merits and, as has been clarified by a number of European leaders in the intervening period, this is being addressed on the basis that Ireland is a special case. The discussions with the ECB are being conducted, in the main, by the Irish Central Bank, and are being backed up by political level discussions which are taking place with the Eurogroup and ECOFIN, conducted by the Minister for Finance. At a political level they are being conducted by the Taoiseach and me. That process has been under way for some time and progress is being made. As we stated from the beginning, our objective is to get the right deal for Ireland rather than set ourselves some artificial deadlines.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Does the Tánaiste accept the Council has no jurisdiction over the ECB?

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The ECB is separate. There is an established structure-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Does the Tánaiste accept the point?

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore There is a structure established for the ECB.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Does the Tánaiste accept that the Council has no jurisdiction over the ECB?

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I am not sure what is the purpose of the Deputy's question.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I just want an answer.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Council agreed the way in which the Irish bank debt issue would be dealt with-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin It did not deal with it. The Tánaiste is playing politics.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore -----which was that it would be progressed by the Eurogroup.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I asked a simple question. Does the Council have jurisdiction over the ECB? Can the Tánaiste answer "Yes" or "No"?

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore It is not about playing politics. The only person playing politics with this is the Deputy.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I only want a "Yes" or "No" answer.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The issue is to secure the best possible outcome for this country in terms of our banking difficulties. I do not want to go back into this again. If the Deputy invites me to play politics-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I only want a "Yes" or "No" answer. The Tánaiste is filibustering.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore -----I am quite happy to do so.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes Please. In fairness, there are other questions to be answered.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I asked a question but the Tánaiste did not answer it.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Deputy maintains an interrupting pattern.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes Please, allow the Tánaiste to speak.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Will you answer the question - "Yes" or "No"?

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I am answering the questions you asked. You asked about the discussions

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes Through the Chair, please.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Deputy Martin asked about the discussions with the ECB and I am providing him with the answer.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin If only the Tánaiste would answer what I asked, namely, whether the European Council has any jurisdiction-----

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore That was not the question. I wrote down the question you asked.

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews Excuse me, Chair.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes No.

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews The Tánaiste and the various leaders have had an opportunity to take up a majority of this debate. Some of us wish to ask questions.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tom Hayes): Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes I ask the Tánaiste to respond.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I answered Deputy Martin's question. I refer now to what Deputy Crowe asked about the social cost to the European economy. This cost was addressed in the conclusions of the European Council last week which state clearly that both the economic and the social dimensions are being addressed. The resolution of Europe's economic difficulties and the debate around that has moved on, very much in the direction of what is needed to generate economic growth in Europe and ensure that jobs are created there. That is why the priorities for the Irish Presidency in the first half of next year emphasise growth and jobs. We set out in our programme the way in which those issues are to be addressed, namely, by completion of the Single Market, addressing the digital single market and issues of mobility in the labour market, dealing with the banking union issue and the promotion of trade agreements. All these measures are aimed at developing an environment where jobs will be created in Europe. In addition, it is also our intention to advance the proposals for addressing youth unemployment, levels of which are far too high in Europe. That is the reason we have given a high priority to getting agreement on the youth guarantee during the course of the Irish Presidency.

I refer to Syria. As Deputy Crowe indicated, the Minister of State, Deputy Costello, suggested we should invite the new Syrian opposition coalition for discussions, and we will do that.


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