8 February 2001 Edition
EU wants us to bow and scrape
BY ROBBIE MacGABHANN
While the Irish government have the exclusive authority to decide on specific corrective measures, it could consider any of the following areas: restraining the growth in current expenditure, phasing and prioritising capital expenditure projects, or offsetting or postponing tax reductions.
These are some of the most important words written about the 26-County economy over the last 30 years. They are part of draft European Union (EU) Commission recommendations to the Dublin government about how it should conduct its economic policy.
In simple English, it says that the coalition government should in a period of unsurpassed wealth and prosperity and financial surpluses spend less money on day-to-day expenses. It says that that the government should invest less money on long-term development projects and that tax cuts proposed last December should not be implemented.
Right now, the growth in the `tiger' economy is being driven partly by the investments begun nearly 20 years ago in telecommunications, in third level education and other infrastructure projects.
It is vital that new long-term investment is kept up in the economy, especially in the underdeveloped west and border regions. The EU Commission seems not to care about this.
The December 2000 budget was one where the issue of taking the low paid out of the tax net was finally addressed, albeit in an unsatisfactory manner. Now the EU wants to step back from this small positive reform.
Even more disturbing is the comment from one EU Commission official that ``they would do well to show some humility''. Why? Have we really reached the position where when it comes to be forming economic policy we have to be humble.
It seems that having escaped one undemocratic and oppressive union we have entered another where once again we are expected to doff the cap and bow.
No thank you.
Reject EU bullies
Vote No to Nice
The attempt by the EU Commission to bully the 26-County government into changing its budget and cutting public spending shows the need for a No vote in the planned referendum on the Treaty of Nice, says Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.
``The EU Commission is trying to bully the government into cutting public spending,'' said the Cavan/Monaghan TD. ``The government is right to resist this and must continue to do so, but successive governments have ceded more and more powers to the EU and surrendered control over our own economy. By joining the Euro and abandoning democratic control of fiscal policy, this government paved the way for the EU Commission and other EU finance ministers to determine Irish budgetary policies. We are now seeing the results of that surrender of economic sovereignty.
``Under the Treaty of Nice this process is being speeded up. That is why the Treaty should be rejected in the planned referendum. Nice is another major step in the creation of a federal EU state with its own currency, its own army and its own central - but undemocratic - government.''