Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Virunga Park chief shot

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Algerian election: Bouteflika votes in wheelchair

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Algeria's media: a mixture of censorship and free speech

Read more

DEBATE

Algeria: What's the Choice? Incumbent Bouteflika Votes in Wheelchair

Read more

WEB NEWS

Nigerian web users call for end to violence

Read more

FOCUS

Bitcoin in the US: A monetary revolution?

Read more

ENCORE!

Fast cars and slow trains

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

FACE-OFF

François Hollande: France's most unpopular president

Read more

  • Nobel-winning Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies at 87

    Read more

  • Russia and West agree on steps to ease Ukraine crisis

    Read more

  • Low turnout in Algerian election tipped to return Bouteflika

    Read more

  • With a strong French presence, veterans and fresh faces, Cannes aims to please

    Read more

  • Chelsea Clinton says she is pregnant

    Read more

  • French troops free five aid workers kidnapped in Mali by Islamists

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • After cup defeat, Spanish pundits read last rites for Barcelona

    Read more

  • Frantic search for survivors of sunken South Korea ferry

    Read more

  • India heads to polls in single largest day of voting

    Read more

  • Ukraine talks open in Geneva as Putin talks tough on TV

    Read more

  • Pro-Russian separatists killed in attack on Black Sea base

    Read more

  • Man executed in Texas for 2002 triple murder

    Read more

  • Scandal-hit French doctor Jacques Servier dies at 92

    Read more

  • Belgian head of wildlife reserve shot in DR Congo

    Read more

  • Crunch talks on Ukraine begin in Geneva

    Read more

  • Stagehand of God? Maradona's legendary goal inspires a play

    Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • N. Korea not amused by London hair salon's Kim Jong-un ad

    Read more

  • Real Madrid beat old foes Barcelona to lift Copa del Rey

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

  • Syria 'torture' photos silence UN Security Council members

    Read more

  • Paris laboratory loses deadly SARS virus samples

    Read more

Europe

Ireland becomes first euro zone state to end bailout

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-13

Three years after going cap in hand to international lenders to avert bankruptcy, Ireland has officially ended its bailout in a landmark moment for the euro zone’s efforts to resolve its debt crisis.

Ireland has cut spending and raised taxes to rebalance the economy since seeking emergency help from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

The country has met every major target under the 85 billion euro programme and enduring little public unrest.

But ending the bailout does not mean the end of austerity for Ireland.

“Ministers admit that perception is the only thing that’s going to change on Monday,” said FRANCE 24 business editor Stephen Carroll, reporting from Dublin. “Austerity will still be needed to keep the budget deficit down and to tackle Ireland’s debt mountain, which has reached 200 billion euros.”

“This isn’t the end of the road,” Finance Minister Michael Noonan told a news conference on Friday. “We must continue with the same types of policies.”

Growth up, unemployment down

The country of 4.6 million is funded into 2015 thanks to debt issuance over the last 18 months. It is showing the way to Greece, Portugal and Cyprus -- which have also had sovereign bailouts -- and Spain, which has had help for its banking system.

With more than 22 billion euros of cash in hand, almost twice the amount initially envisaged by its lenders, Ireland has insulation against market shocks and the economy is forecast to grow by about 2 percent next year.

Unemployment has fallen below 13 percent, from a 15.1 percent peak in 2012, and Dublin is confident enough to do without a backup credit line.

In a sign of European admiration for Ireland’s efforts, Noonan received an award from the German-Irish Chamber of Commerce for his role in the bailout exit and “huge positive impact” on relations between the countries.

An urban-rural divide

But there is a sharp divide between capital and countryside and smaller towns. Jobs are being created and house prices rising in the former, while the latter are still strewn with empty properties from the “Celtic Tiger” boom years and closed down shops. Economic recovery is also heavily reliant on exports.

While pledging to maintain fiscal discipline, Noonan said he will consider income tax cuts in the next two budgets to give the economy some support.

Ireland could cut its total debt load from a peak of 124 percent of gross domestic product this year to 116 in 2014 by using its cash buffers, Noonan said.

“They have to be prudent. You can’t just cut taxes for the sake of it,” said Alan McQuaid, chief economist at Merrion Stockbrokers. “It’s a good story for the EU and it’s a good story for us (but) we’re still at the mercy of global factors.”

Struggles ahead

Leaving the bailout is an important achievement but Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s government still has plenty of hurdles to overcome as it seeks to win over the Irish people, with an election due by early 2016.

Kenny, who inherited the bailout when he came to power in 2011, will start efforts to win back voters in a state of the nation address on Sunday evening, the date he has earmarked as the official end of the bailout.

Ireland’s costs to borrow money for 10 years have now fallen below 3.5 percent, from a high of 15 percent just eight months into the bailout, but many people, particularly outside the capital, have yet to feel better about their finances.

“They say it’ll turn around, but by the time it turns around people will be devastated, broke,” said Michael Moore, a pensioner in Dublin. “They just don’t seem to give two damns.”

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

Date created : 2013-12-13

  • IRELAND-EU

    Ireland ready to exit bailout in December, PM says

    Read more

  • AVIATION

    Ryanair to pay €10 million in French labour law case

    Read more

  • LITERATURE

    Irish poet Seamus Heaney dies at 74

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)