Press review: Irish rescue plans


As EU states hover around the stricken Irish economy, commentators in Europe's newspapers have been taking a bleak view of the eurozone's future.

There is frustration that the IMF, not Brussels, may end up deciding the issue and fear that European unity will suffer in the long run.

Writing in Germany's Der Tagesspiegel, Albrecht Meier acknowledges Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen's assurances that his country will stay solvent until the summer of the next year.

But, he says, "it is still possible that further risks lie dormant in the rescue of Irish banks".

"Cowen's concern is now also Europe's concern," the Tagesspiegel writer says.

Ceding to the IMF

Blogging for France's Le Monde, Georges Ugeux argues that, after Greece, Spain and Portugal, Ireland is the latest proof of the eurozone's inability to manage its own affairs.

Dublin's "stubborn" refusal to ask for help from its EU partners, and its insistence that it can pay its bills for the next six months, has "brought the IMF to the euro's bedside", he says.

"Solutions and constraints will come from Washington, not Brussels," he warns.

"Alone in this absurd concert, the President of Europe, Herman Van Rompuy, has dared to say out loud what we all think to ourselves: the survival of the euro is at stake," Ugeux remarks.

"Fourth time around, it's no longer a mistake but a fault."

Blogging for France's Liberation, Jean Quatremer contends that a bail-out paid for out of the eurozone's stabilisation fund would be hard for EU citizens to stomach.

"Why should European citizens have to pay for the Irish government's decision to save its banks at any price without restructuring the banks' debt?" he asks.

Noting that British and German banks are the most exposed to Irish debt, Quatremer says: "The ideal solution would be a European restructuring plan and a bilateral British financial aid package."

EU itself at stake

In Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Guenther Nonnenmacher warns that breaking up the single currency would cause "immense economic and political harm".

"This harm would likely be compounded in that this abolition of a step towards integration could set in motion a fatally regressive dynamic," he says.

"Only fools will believe that the European single market could survive such a step undamaged, not to speak of the impact on the readiness of EU states to compromise in other, political areas."

Writing in another German newspaper, Die Welt, Christoph B Schiltz argues that the EU's "deepest crisis since its foundation" has sapped its spirit of solidarity.

"Today, the EU resembles a club of 27 egoists who, through technocratic procedures and a competition to see who can seize the largest piece from the cake of European prosperity, somehow have become bound up with each other," he says.

"Europe is exhausted. It lacks strength, ideas, public spirit and an identity."

Lessons for Spain

In a podcast for Spain's El Mundo, Pedro J Ramirez argues that bail-outs for Ireland and Portugal would benefit his country in the short term because they would calm the markets.

"But it would increase our risk in the medium term because we would be among the weakest needing help," he says.

"This is the scenario which Spain could find itself in two, three or four months - an insurmountable financing crisis, above all if, in the meantime, the government turns a deaf ear to advice from Brussels and continues to kick away reforms."

An opinion piece in another Spanish newspaper, La Razon, argues that the government must act to gain the confidence of the markets through "progress in labour and pension reforms and by reducing the deficit, and not by concocting a march backwards with the unions".

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