To be in, or not to be in

6th January, 2012

The economic clouds are darkening and despite Ireland’s heroic, and much admired, efforts to get its own house in order, the fate of our export markets will decide how our economy performs in 2012.

Now, more than ever, our future depends on Eurozone stability. Now, more than ever, we need our trading partners to grow.

To achieve that stability and growth (remember that phrase?), EU Heads of Government will in the coming months devise a new set of rules on how the EU and in particular the eurozone, runs it fiscal affairs. It will mean greater cooperation, based on the golden rule that no country, be it Greece or Ireland or France or Germany, is allowed to run its economy in a wreckless way. No more construction booms. No more irresponsible bank lending. No more large, never-ending and unnecessary government deficits.

It has taken a huge economic shock to show us that none of our economies exist in isolation. It is time to learn that lesson and act.

The outcome of the new set of rules may, or may not, mean a referendum in this country. Many will urge a No vote as a “punishment” to the EU. They have started saying that already. They are wrong. To do so would deprive the EU of a path to stability and growth that, I believe, will bring an eventual end to the economic nightmare that we are living through.

The package currently debated is not the full solution – but it is part of it. Let us not cut off our nose to spite our face.