EU may ask Government to cut spending next month

IRELAND could be asked to make further cuts to government spending next month when the European Commission finalises its assessment of the country’s deficit and debt.

Both Spain and Portugal reduced their spending very drastically last week when the EU said their spending was still too high and were not reducing their deficits fast enough. The countries will half their deficits to around 5% by next year.

But Ireland appeared to be ignored by ministers, despite having the highest deficit in the eurozone and a forecast for about 10% next year.

However, economics commissioner Olli Rehn indicated this could soon change as their attention turns to Ireland. “We are certainly looking to Ireland, and while Ireland took early and quite substantial measures to help bring down the spreads, there is a constant need to stay vigilant.

“Ireland will be one of the countries in focus. We are expecting fiscal consolidation,” he said following a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels yesterday.

“Ireland will be closely followed because of its recent debt dynamics in our comprehensive assessment in June,” he added.

Mr Rehn was referring to the forecast and state of play report received from each member state earlier this year which the commission will report on next month.

Ministers also discussed proposals to have the broad outlines of their budgets assessed by the commission and reviewed by ministers from other EU states before being adopted at home.

Several countries expressed concern, but said they believed a way could be found that would not usurp national parliaments but would also allow the commission to issue guidance.

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