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Address by H.E. Mr. Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament

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Address by H.E. Mr. Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament

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Address by H.E. Mr. Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament

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Snippet Contents:

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an Uachtarán Schulz. Tá súil agam go raibh seans aige taitneamh a bhaint as ár bhflaithiúlacht Éireannach agus go mbeidh turas maith aige anseo. Ba mhaith liom "go raibh míle maith agat" a rá leis as ucht na focail an-soiléir a dúirt sé. I welcome Mr. Shultz, MEP, the President of the European Parliament, and thank him for his remarks. I will deal, first, with the immediate financial crisis facing the State and Europe and will then make some comments on the future direction of the European project.
For the past five years states across the European Union and European institutions have been grappling with fiscal and banking crises. A succession of summits has failed to deliver any concrete solution. The previous Government informed us that the State was coerced into a European bailout by the European Central Bank and other European leaders in 2010. It claimed that EU institutions insisted that the Irish taxpayers should carry the burden for the bad banking debts of private institutions and the banks.
In June this Government returned from the European Council summit claiming it had secured agreement that this bad banking debt would be lifted from the shoulders of Irish citizens. The Taoiseach called it a "seismic shift" and the Tánaiste described it as a "game changer". However, last week's statement by the so-called "Helsinki three", the finance Ministers of Germany, Finland and the Netherlands, that the ESM bailout fund would only deal with future banking liabilities, sharply contradicts these assertions. This situation was made worse by the European Commission President's, José Manuel Barossa's, very clear refusal yesterday to back the Government's interpretation that the June agreement would deal with legacy debts in the banking system.
I welcome remarks of the President of the European Parliament on this issue today, though I note he couched them as his personal opinions. I especially welcome his eloquent comments on the need for solidarity. He said that the bigger member states should not give lessons to the smaller ones and I agree. However, he will know that thus far, as far as the leaders of the bigger European states are concerned, smaller states such as this one can be treated with disdain and left to carry the burden of debts that are not ours.
Unlike the Government, Sinn Féin from the very start of this crisis has been advocating a write-down of private bank debt. Bank debt needs to be separated from sovereign debt. The burden of bad banking debt, the so-called legacy issue, which was foisted on the shoulders of the Irish people, also needs to be removed.
At the conclusion to recent EU summits there has been much talk about a renewed focus on jobs and growth rather than austerity, but people need to see delivery on these promises. European leaders are failing to tackle the jobs crisis. Some 24 million citizens are unemployed across the EU and in this State 440,000 people are on the live register. The scourge of emigration is once more a factor for families and communities, particularly in rural areas. The eurozone countries urgently need investment in jobs, particularly in the peripheral states.
This can be achieved by among other measures an enlarged investment fund in the European Investment Bank. However, the passing of the recent fiscal austerity treaty is undoubtedly bad for jobs and for growth, and will hamper prospects for economic recovery. Research published last week by the Central Bank of Ireland indicates that the State will need to run austerity budgets until 2020 to meet the targets set down in the treaty.