Shane Fitzgerald

A portfolio of writing on politics and policy in Europe and Asia

Tag: Ireland

Record High for Eurozone Unemployment

Yesterday, the IIEA published the latest in our series of infographics on European economic issues, this time devoted to the crucial and under-reported issue of EU unemployment.

Today, Eurostat published its latest ‘Euroindicator‘ on unemployment, showing further increases in the EU27 joblessness rate from 9.7% to 9.8% and in the euro area rate from 10.2% to 10.3%.

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Junking the Ratings Agencies

Yesterday Ireland joined Greece and Portugal in the credit rating ‘junkyard’ as Moody’s downgraded its debt to Ba1 level. The agency also put the country on a negative outlook, meaning that further downgrades are likely.

Ireland’s response is one of understandable frustration, as it has until now been widely commended for ‘getting with the programme’ and implementing harsh austerity measures. More interesting is the furious reaction of EU leaders, perhaps reflecting the fact that recent downgrades are less a verdict on the Irish or Portuguese economies than a condemnation of Europe’s collective failure to get to grips with a crisis that still threatens to engulf its single currency.

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Stability for Ireland and the Eurozone

A trio of leading economic experts have addressed the IIEA in recent weeks on the topic of Ireland’s sovereign debt crisis. Tellingly, each of them spent as much time speaking about the European dimensions of Ireland’s problems and their solutions as they did talking about domestic factors.

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Corporate Tax Battle Looms

The European Commissioner for Taxation, Algirdas Šemeta, has today presented long-awaited new proposals on a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB).

The goal is to introduce common rules about what corporate profits are taxable (the base) and to consolidate where they should be paid. The proposals cover tax bases but not rates, which would remain the prerogative of national governments.

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Europe’s Next Grand Bargain

In the last year alone, the force of the Eurozone debt crisis has pushed reluctant EU policymakers across a series of political Rubicons – Greece has been bailed-out, a temporary eurozone rescue mechanism has been installed, that mechanism has been activated for Ireland, and agreement that a permanent replacement scheme is needed has been reached.

In keeping with Jean Monnet’s dictum that ‘Europe will be forged in crises, and will be the sum of the solutions adopted for those crises’, each of these measures, even the agreement on the need for a permanent financial facility for troubled states, was compelled by overbearing market pressures. Together they amount to a major change in the way the EU functions.

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Ireland: High Time for Political Renewal

As Europe’s financial crises bed down into economic malaise, a portion of attention turns from fixing the continent’s financial and regulatory systems to reforming its systems of governance.

Faith in politics in Europe is at a historic low. Eurofound, the Dublin-based EU agency devoted to improving living and working conditions, has charted an average 12% decline in people’s level of trust in their political institutions over a two-year period to September 2009. Ireland was one of the worst-affected countries. One can only imagine how that decline has accelerated in the months since.

But there are now a few signs that the economic trauma inflicted on citizens has begun to percolate upwards and to induce change in national institutions. Governing elites that have to varying degrees been discredited now seek to augment parliamentary politics with more direct, deliberative and participative forms of democracy.

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Fixing Finance – The EU Dimension

The IIEA’s International Financial Reform Working Group came together in 2009 and evolved in various formats from then up to March 2010. Its regular roundtable meetings were complemented by a series of keynote addresses at the IIEA on related topics.

These publications have emerged from the process. It is hoped that they will provide a basis for further discussion and research among the members of the Working Group itself, the membership of the IIEA, and a wider public.

Download Links

Download Report 1: William Scally. Fixing Finance – Why Regulation? here

Download Report 2: Shane Fitzgerald. Fixing Finance – The EU Dimension here

Download Report 3: William Scally. Fixing Finance – The Irish Experience here

Download the full publication here


MGQ and Innovation Ireland

How can the EU help build a Smart Economy?

Members of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on European Affairs recently congratulated Maire Geoghegan Quinn (known to a generation of Irish journalists as MGQ) on her appointment as Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science. The appointment has met with a positive response from Irish commentators both because of MGQ’s perceived competence and because of the relative importance of the portfolio, not to mention its “appropriateness” to Ireland’s stated policies and priorities.

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The Reform of Financial Supervision in Europe

In responding to the financial crisis, the EU has proposed both new regulations and new supervisory arrangements. It is also reviewing and amending an existing suite of financial services legislation.

The focus of this paper is the European Commission’s proposals in the area of supervisory reform. It begins with a discussion of the supervision function and the status quo before the financial crisis, before proceeding with a short summary of a report that effectively laid the basis for the EU’s supervisory response to the crisis. It then tracks the policymaking process as it unfolded in 2009 and evaluates the package of draft legislation as it stands now, in late 2009, adopted by the Commission and being negotiated under the co-decision procedure between the European Parliament, Council and Commission. Finally, it considers some issues relating to the establishment and operation of the bodies proposed in the draft legislation and offers some preliminary observations.

It is available for direct download here.