“Donohoe silence on EU Fiscal Rules shows lack of Leadership” – Chris MacManus MEP
Chris MacManus MEP has said the reluctance of Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to address reform of the EU’s fiscal rules shows a lack of leadership from the Eurogroup. MacManus was speaking following an exchange with Minister Donohoe at the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. Minister Donohoe was appointed President of the Eurogroup in July.
MEP MacManus said: “Today I questioned Minister Paschal Donohoe on his Eurogroup’s position on the need for deep reform of the fiscal rules. Unfortunately, he chose to kick the issue to the Commission. This is very regrettable. There is a lively debate taking place right now on the future of these rules because of the massive increase in debt that countries have rightly taken on to tackle the damage of Covid 19. Yet Minister Donohoe and the Eurogroup are hiding behind the Commission. That is not acceptable.”
“The Minister’s previous comments such as in his ‘letter of motivation’ for the job as President of the Eurogroup show him to be on the conservative side of the argument and that for him returning to the old normal is the aim. His comments today did nothing to dispel that notion.”
The Midlands Northwest MEP described the rules as outdated. “The pandemic has added urgency to this debate, but it has been clear for a very long time that the rules are not fit for purpose. The necessary investments in environmental and social infrastructure that Ireland and Europe needs are not compatible with arbitrary rules around debt and deficits. Such investments to aid a green and just transition or projects like public housing must be exempt from the fiscal rules.”
The Sinn Féin MEP said radical reform is urgently needed. “The silence from Minister Donohoe and the Eurogroup does not serve the peoples of Europe well. The conservative Commission, unaccountable to national parliaments, is unlikely to propose the radical changes needed. If the EU does not grasp the nettle now and radically reform the fiscal rules, the end of the current suspension will simply see a return to the old approach of deficit counting trumping meaningful investment. The role of the Eurogroup and its President should be to make sure the opportunity is not missed.”