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European Financial Stability and Euro Area Loan Facility (Amendment) Bill 2011 Speech

I congratulate Deputy Dooley on his selective amnesia. He talked about the previous Government but I am not sure whether he meant the Fianna Fáil Government in coalition with the Green Party, the Fianna Fáil Government in coalition with the Progressive Democrats or the Fianna Fáil Government in coalition with the Progressive Democrats and the Independents. The only common denominator between all of them was Fianna Fáil. I am disappointed the Deputy brought up that point.

I have a huge interest in history and I must read up on the start of monetary union because it was at that point the possibility of the current crisis was not discussed as a future consequence of that measure. Monetary union came about as a result of a meeting between Helmut Kohl and François Mitterrand back in 1990. It was a deal done where the French sought monetary union while the Germans got political union between east and west Germany. One wonders if the bureaucrats in the EU at the time had the foresight to predict the problem that has occurred. When we devolved our currency in 1986 the consequences of that internationally were that our exports became cheaper and we could trade more in the market but people who had borrowed Irish punts lost 20% of the value of their money. Surely the bureaucrats could have foreseen potential problems and have put in place the structures that are needed now. We are dealing with basically emergency legislation that has come about as a result of a meeting in June. The EFSF is being put in place a result of that. It is a pity we cannot deal with the ESM at the same time and the reason we cannot is that it is evolving on foot of the situation in Greece. What we are dealing with now is a new situation. When I look back to the 1929 crash and the consequences of it, there was nothing like this structure in place at that time. We are now dealing with an evolving position. When the monetary union was set up there were two strong leaders in France and Germany but, sadly, there are not strong leaders in office now. Both the French and the Germans are dithering and they will not make the call that is needed for Europe to progress out of this crisis.

We are dealing with the EFSF, the ESM and the ECB and it is all around the EU. The common letter in all of it is the letter “E”. “E” does not mean egotistical and nationalism. Sadly, a German Commissioner said recently that countries in serious deficit should lower their national flags. Deputy Dooley alluded to the fact that the previous Administration was very much pro-Europeans, yet a previous Minister for Finance from my constituency, when criticised for his economic policies at the time, called those critics “Pinkos”.

We should take stock of where we are at now. The letter “E” stands for Europeans. Members on my side of the House are all committed Europeans. The more than 200,000 people who will spend time over the next three or four days at the National Ploughing Championships are all committed Europeans because they realise the benefit. We as a nation must make sure the policy we want to put in place is portrayed in Europe. I congratulate the Minsters for Foreign Affairs and Finance on putting across that message – that a distinctive and strong leadership is required in Europe and that decisions that must be made for the future of Europe are made. People talk about the Germans leaving the eurozone but if they do so, that will affect their economy.

I welcome the introduction of the legislation to provide for the EFSF. I assume the legislation on the ESM will be introduced shortly and I look forward to supporting that. I congratulate our Ministers on the work they have done so far on easing the burden on the country.