“The President of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, this morning confirmed that the proposed early repayment of Ireland’s IMF bailout loans will be discussed by the Eurogroup, at a meeting next week,” Brian Hayes MEP, said in Brussels this morning (Thursday).
MEP Hayes, a former Junior Finance Minister, posed the question to Mr Dijsselbloem at a meeting of the European Parliament’s Economic Committee this morning. In raising the proposal, the Dublin MEP cited the “extraordinary sacrifices” made by the Irish people in recent years. Noting the importance of Ireland’s return to the international money markets, Mr Hayes asked for Mr Dijsselbloem’s view on Ireland repaying the IMF portion of the Troika funds early.
Mr Dijsselbloem responded positively, recognising that an early repayment would equate to a “large benefit” in terms of interest rates. He also confirmed that the Irish Minister has raised the proposal with him and other institutions so he is aware it is being considered. The Eurogroup President then confirmed that it will be discussed by the Eurogroup at their meeting in Italy next week, although a formal request for an early repayment of outstanding debt has yet to be officially made by the Irish government.
Mr Dijsselbloem added that the proposal would have to be discussed and approved by European Finance Ministers at an ECOFIN meeting as well.
MEP Hayes described the comments as “positive”. “Mr Dijsselbloem was very open to the proposal and positive in tone. His confirmation that the Eurogroup will discuss this matter as early as next week is good news for Ireland. It would mean very significant savings for Ireland on our loan repayments and would strengthen the country’s economic recovery further.”
“Clearly this proposal is at an early stage . However, I will continue to push the issue with my EPP colleagues in the European Parliament to make the case for Ireland in terms of early repayment of our Troika loans. It’s an absolute ‘no-brainer’ that Ireland would seek to repay IMF loans when the interest rate on those loans is higher than that of EU loans,” he said.
As a full member of the Economic Committee, Mr Hayes was this week appointed Shadow Rapporteur on the Money Market Funds proposal to be reviewed by the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) in the European Parliament. He will lead negotiations on this proposal on behalf of the EPP Group, to which Fine Gael is aligned. According to the Irish Funds Industry Association (IFIA), Irish domiciled Money Market Funds had assets of €290 billion as of May 2014, making Ireland an important location for global Money Market Funds.