Wednesday

25th Apr 2018

Irish head to polls on fiscal treaty

  • Dublin shopping street: the result of the vote is due late on Friday (Photo: William Murphy)

Irish voters are heading to the polls on Thursday (31 May) to decide on the budget-balancing fiscal discipline treaty, amid a stark warning by Prime Minister Enda Kenny that to reject the document would see the country's borrowing costs soar.

Unlike Ireland's numerous previous referendums on other EU treaties, the outcome will not determine whether the document comes into force. This will happen if 12 of the 17 eurozone countries ratify it.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

But this fact has not removed the heat from the domestic debate.

The Yes camp, including the government, point out that a rejection would mean that Ireland will not have access to the permanent eurozone bail-out fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

They also say that when Ireland returns to the markets late next year, its borrowing costs are likely to be high if the treaty has been turned down.

"Countries that ratify this have access to the ESM, countries that don't, won't and the difference between 3 percent and 7 percent, or even 8 percent or 9 percent, is enormous in the context of availability of funding, were that ever to be necessary," Prime Minister Enda Kenny said on Wednesday (30 May).

The No side argue that this is scare-mongering and the country could, if necessary resort to funding from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Their main argument is that the treaty will condemn Ireland to continued austerity.

"Don't be fooled. Be wise. Join with the millions across Europe who are demanding an end to austerity," said Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein party, for which support has just hit a record 24 percent.

The Yes side has been in the lead since campaigning began. The latest poll suggested 53 percent in favour to 47 percent against. But the government is nervous about the mood of the austerity-weary public. Irish citizens have been subjected to large public spending cuts as well as tax hikes since the country received an €85 billion EU-IMF bail-out in 2010.

The 11-page treaty, pushed by Germany as a way of ensuring more fiscal discipline in fellow EU member states, says signatories must keep their budgets balanced or in surplus. The annual structural budget deficit should be kept to 0.5 percent of GDP.

It also imposes strict monitoring and automatic correction mechanisms - such as raising taxes - to ensure deficit targets are kept.

Some of the Irish debate has centred on the fact that a structural deficit and how it is measured is not defined in the treaty, with critics saying this means it is not clear what the country is signing itself up to.

Advocates of a Yes say the fiscal compact is necessary both to ensure the country's stability and to counteract years of imprudent spending by former governments.

Polling stations open at 7am local time on Thursday and close at 10pm with around 3.1 million people eligible to vote. Results are due late on Friday.

Analysis

New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability

The EU's latest funding rules for European political parties and their think tanks fails to address the underlying problems of abuse. Instead of tackling the loans and donations culture, it has simply made access to EU funds a lot easier.

MEPs set limits to Macron's ambitions

The French president tried to woo the European Parliament but found that his quest for leadership will have to abide by the rules set by the European political groups.

Analysis

Macron relaunches his bid for EU leadership

In a speech to the European Parliament on Tuesday and then at a meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, the French president will try to get support for his EU reform proposals.

Feature

Hungary activists defiant after 'Soros Mercenaries' attack

Immediately after Orban's landslide victory in April, a list of so-called 'Soros mercenaries' was published by pro-government media. Those on it - mostly human rights defenders, activists and Orban critics - are now anxious but vow to continue.

Analysis

New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability

The EU's latest funding rules for European political parties and their think tanks fails to address the underlying problems of abuse. Instead of tackling the loans and donations culture, it has simply made access to EU funds a lot easier.

News in Brief

  1. UN expects over $4bn in pledges for Syria
  2. Commission wants more public data made available for reuse
  3. Study: Brexit will hit all European farmers
  4. European media face rise in 'verbal violence' from politicians
  5. Greenland PM to keep power despite poll slump
  6. Commissioner optimistic on FYROM name solution
  7. Italian court keeps NGO migrant rescue boat docked
  8. German Jews warned not to wear skullcap in public

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  2. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  6. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  8. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  9. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  10. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  11. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  12. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip

Latest News

  1. Whistleblowers could be enforcers of rule of law in Europe
  2. EU shelves Macron idea for 'European Darpa'
  3. Don't play EU 'games' with military HQs, Italian admiral says
  4. EU had a plan for Jordan - now it's time to make it work
  5. Time for EU to take charge of global health research agenda
  6. EU in race to set global Artificial Intelligence ethics standards
  7. Juncker delays air quality action due to busy agenda
  8. Spain makes bid for EU naval HQ