Noonan: Hollande must clarify treaty stance

French president-elect François Hollande needs to “clarify” what he intends to do about the fiscal treaty, Michael Noonan has said.

The finance minister admitted that the uncertainty about Mr Hollande’s plans was a concern that could affect the outcome of the referendum on the treaty.

The talk of the treaty being re-opened “doesn’t sit so well with us”, Mr Noonan said at a meeting in Warsaw.

However, he expressed confidence that Mr Hollande’s focus was on adding growth initiatives to the pact rather than ripping it up and starting again.

“We are concerned about this in Ireland where we are in the middle of the referendum campaign. It doesn’t sit so well with us [talk of changes to the treaty]. But I am not sure it’s about rejection of austerity in France,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

It came as German chancellor Angela Merkel said that while she looked forward to working with Mr Hollande, the treaty was not up for renegotiation.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore insisted the May 31 referendum would go ahead, saying it would be a mistake to delay it.

“If we defer a decision, we can expect that people who are thinking of investing in Ireland may defer their decision as well,” he told RTÉ.

Mr Noonan said Ireland would not oppose efforts to add “growth elements”, which the Government appears to believe could be done without changing the core text of the treaty.

“It would help us... if Mr Hollande would soon clarify what he would like to add to the treaty.”

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said there was “nothing to prevent” growth initiatives being placed alongside the treaty “provided that the political will is there”. She said Mr Hollande’s election gave the EU an opportunity “to turn a page”.

However, she acknowledged that he would have to give clarification.


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