Ireland’s backing for Europe’s fiscal pact eased stress levels in Brussels today, with eurocrats welcoming a glimmer of good news in the midst of gathering economic gloom.
Although an Irish No would not have derailed the new pact – only 12 out of 17 eurozone countries need to ratify it – it would have been seen as a thumbs down to the EU and a boost to eurosceptics.
“A No vote was the last thing anyone needed at this time,” said one EU official, adding: “However, let’s be clear – a No would have directly affected Ireland.
Twenty-five of the EU’s 27 member states have signed a landmark treaty to co-ordinate their budget policies and impose penalties on rule-breakers – the “fiscal compact”.
Rejecting the pact – which sets debt and deficit reduction targets with penalties for breaches – would have blocked Ireland from any further emergency EU funding following its €85bn bailout from the EU and IMF.
But while most European political parties welcomed a “responsible” vote backing the pact, UK Independence Party MEP and deputy leader Paul Nuttall, in Dublin Castle for the count, said: “A very sad day for the Irish people, deluded by Yes side promises of investment and cowered by economic threats.
“It is cumulative Yes votes to EU treaties which have led Ireland to its current dire economic circumstances.
“Today’s result cements its status as an economic vassal state. I hope in a few years, Irish people who love freedom and want prosperity for their country will remember the Yes campaign’s promises of jobs and investment with contempt, then once again seek their self-governance from their new masters in Berlin and Brussels.”
Ireland North West Fianna Fáil MEP Pat Gallagher said: “The Treaty (fiscal pact) will ensure that Ireland has access to the European Stability Mechanism (emergency bail-out money), if required. This brings a degree of certainty to our public finances as the Irish State will be able to apply for assistance, at sustainable interest rates, if needed.
“The ESM is an important safety net for Ireland and the eurozone. I have consistently maintained during the referendum campaign that stability and growth are two sides of the same coin, and the housekeeping rules contained in the pact can help to pave the way for future growth by ensuring a positive climate, conducive for investment and job creation.”