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News : Irish Economy Last Updated: Jan 26, 2015 - 1:42 AM

Ireland to EU: 'Give us money for Irish Water'; 'Shut your trap and feck off'
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Dec 9, 2014 - 8:49 AM

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Ireland has asked the EU to provide money for the controversial new public agency Irish Water and this news comes a day before planned public protests on Wednesday against water charges. Meanwhile on Monday in what appears to have been an official leak to show that ministers can pushback against Brussels, it was reported that last month senior officials had issued a démarche to visiting representatives of the bailout troika who were in Dublin on a post-bailout surveillance mission. The demand was to stop interfering in domestic issues, in particular water policy; in effect  'Shut your trap and feck off.'

EU finance ministers will meet on Tuesday to discuss the details of the €315bn Europe-wide investment plan, that was recently announced by Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission.

Reuters reports that the German government has listed 58 investment projects with a total value of €89bn.

A list of European investment projects seen by the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Monday showed that private companies will be encouraged to invest €24bn in extending Germany's broadband internet capacity.

Other big-ticket items included €13.5bn for wind power and €10bn for increasing the capacity of the motorway network.

The ECB will be asked to provide a loan of €60bn to support the plan.

The Irish Times reports today that the Irish Government has identified projects with a capital value of more than €10bn for possible inclusion in the scheme, including a number of road schemes. Apart from Irish Water, Dublin's Metro North and an electricity interconnector with France, head the list.

The Irish Government's anger in November was triggered by reports that a European Commission 'source' had questioned the climbdown on metered water charges and the introduction of flat fees.

Reporting on the leak of a subsequent meeting with the troika, the Irish Times reported: "The European official was told – in uncompromisingly direct language – that there would be no change whatever in attitude or tone."

We don't have to speculate too hard that on Merrion Street the commonly Irish used wide grammatical variations of the word 'fuck' were in liberal use rather than the more polite 'feck' term as used in the headline above - the political stakes are high: ministers desperately need to have a ruling next year from Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, approving the separation of Irish Water from government finances. An adverse ruling would reduce the cash available to fund tax cuts in Budget 2016, which would take effect weeks before the next general election.

Here again we have an example of the limits of European integration: countries want EU money - Ireland joined the then European Economic Community in 1973 and has yet to make a net contribution to the Brussels budget - but all credit is claimed for good news while the negatives are blamed on the EU.

Michael Noonan, finance minister, said last September:

The turnaround that we are seeing in the Irish economy is a direct consequence of the policies pursued by this Government and the sacrifices made by the Irish people...The specific measures introduced over the past three years to repair and grow key sectors of our economy have also made a significant contribution."

Most of the tough decisions were made by the late Brian Lenihan, Noonan's predecessor.

The French are also not behind the door when it comes to foreign bêtes noires.

On Sunday Jean-Luc Mélenchon,  leader of France's Left Party, sent a tweet, partly in German, in response to an interview Angela Merkel, German chancellor, had given to a Sunday newspaper.

Mélenchon's political party supports: "combat commun des syndicats et des organisations et regroupements politiques de l'extrême gauche à l'écologie politique" (the common struggle of trade unions and political organizations and groups of the extreme left political ecology).

The German leader had said France and Italy had not done enough to cut their budgets, and called for both countries to enact additional deficit-cutting measures.

"The [EU] Commission has made clear that what has been put on the table so far is insufficient. I would agree with this," Merkel told Die Welt am Sonntag.

"Shut your trap, Ms. Merkel! France is free." Melenchon tweeted in German, adding in French that Merkel should concern herself instead with the poor in her country and ruined infrastructure in Germany.

"Maybe Chancellor Merkel should focus on Germany's domestic demand, on its lack of investments, or on its balance-of-payments imbalances," said Sandro Gozi,  Italian undersecretary for EU affairs . "It would be an important contribution that Europe has been waiting on Berlin to make for a long time and which so far has not happened."

"The number of German nationals is falling every year, which is why in ten or twenty years we in France will be in a better position," Michel Sapin, French finance minister, snapped back on Monday.

An Entente Cordiale clearly doesn't exist at present and last month Mario Draghi, ECB president, outlined conditions necessary to bring about greater economic integration.

However, the evidence is that countries want solidarity and money when its suits and also when it suits the EU can be the convenient scapegoat or solidarity in practice can be for example facilitating massive tax avoidance.

ECB to consider QE in January; Cuts forecasts

Eurozone inflation fell to 0.3% in November; Jobless rate in Germany lowest in Europe in October

German jobs rise all in full-time employment unlike in UK, Ireland

Eurozone retail sales volume up in October - remains at 2004 level

Manufacturing PMI surveys show Germany, France & Italy contracted in November

German manufacturing wages are the highest of big industrial nations

Dreams of European Growth: Euro began with Germany, France and Italy in sick ward

Eurozone inflation fell to 0.3% in November; Jobless rate in Germany lowest in Europe in October

Manufacturing PMI surveys show Germany, France & Italy contracted in November

GDP up by 0.2% in Eurozone in Q3 2014 and up by 0.3% in EU28

German employment at record high

France's 10-year bond yield below 1% for first time; Draghi pushes for economic union

Stagnation in the Eurozone as German aversion to inflation to continue

German industrial production may expand only ¾% in 2015

European Commission forecasts slow recovery with very low inflation

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