Response to Bailout

We have written an open letter to Commisioner Olli Rehn regarding the role played by EU in the negotiation of the Irish bailout. It was was published in the Irish Independent today Tuesday 7th December - you can read it here

Here’s the full letter below:


29th November 2010

Dear Commissioner Olli Rehn,

Claiming our Future is an initiative which has brought together a broad cross section of Irish civil society to agree and progress the values and policy priorities which would allow Ireland to emerge from its current economic and social crisis as a more equal  and sustainable society. A meeting of over one thousand people, organised last month by Claiming our Future, agreed the need for equality and environmental sustainability to underpin any policy response to the economic and social crisis.

We are concerned at the role played by the European Union in the negotiation of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Irish government. We wish to draw your attention to a number of areas where we believe the European Union participation in the National Recovery Plan and the Memorandum of Understanding is in breach of the European Union Treaties and in contradiction with the ‘Europe 2020’ policy strategy of the European Commission.

The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union requires the European Union in all its activities to aim to eliminate inequalities (Article 8), to take account of requirements linked to the promotion of a high level of employment, the guarantee of adequate social protection and the fight against social exclusion (Article 9) and to integrate environmental protection requirements (Article 11).

The Memorandum of Understanding, and the National Recovery Plan on which it is based, which has now been negotiated by the European Union, among others, does not reflect these legal requirements. On the contrary the Memorandum of Understanding and the National Recovery Plan make no reference to the objectives of eliminating inequality or fighting social exclusion. They will inevitably deepen inequality in Irish society, result in a significant increase in consistent and relative poverty, and do nothing to advance an environmentally sustainable model of development.

The cut in the national minimum wage and other negotiated minimum wages, the cuts in social welfare rates and the rollback of key public services proposed in the National Recovery Plan demonstrate a disregard for legal commitments enshrined in the European Union Treaties.

We fully acknowledge the seriousness of the economic crisis that faces Ireland and the need for fiscal consolidation and correction. However within this context very different choices were available to the European Union and others who negotiated this Memorandum of Understanding.

In particular we believe that the full range of legal commitments within the Treaties could have been honoured through a reduced emphasis on front loading of the deficit reduction and a more significant focus on taxation, moving Ireland from being a low tax economy by increasing taxation levels on those who hold significant wealth in Ireland.

The ‘Europe 2020’ strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth was adopted by the European Commission only in March of this year. The European Commission established a number of headline targets in this policy strategy. One target was that 75% of the population aged 20-64 should be employed. Another was that there should be 20 million less people at risk of poverty. These targets are deemed to be critical to the overall success of the European Union.

The Memorandum of Understanding, and the National Recovery Plan on which it is based, run directly counter to these targets. There is no stimulus package included which would drive job creation in our context of rising unemployment. There is no reference in the plan to poverty reduction and the measures included will increase the numbers of people living in poverty. Are the citizens of the European Union that live in Ireland to be bypassed in the implementation of the ‘Europe 2020’ strategy? This would make a mockery of the value of equality which the European Treaties state as being foundational for the European Union (Article 2).

We do not believe that it is necessary or legally permissible to jettison values that have been at the heart of building greater political cooperation across Europe. We write this letter to call on you to take steps to rectify this situation. We also call on you to ensure that the European Union respect the European Union Treaties and advance European Union policies in its ongoing involvement in the Irish bailout.


David Begg, Paula Clancy, Niall Crowley, Sean Healy, Sally-Anne Kinahan, Siobhan O’ Donoghue, Mary Murphy, Charles Stanley-Smith

On behalf of


c/o 9 Cavendish Row, Dublin 1.

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