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Irish premier in Vienna

Ireland's Premier Enda Kenny flew into Vienna, Austria, from Budapest, Hungary, today for a meeting in advance of Ireland taking over the EU presidency in January.

He said it was the seventh time that Ireland had held the office and that there were many challenges, but that they planned to make education, economic growth, unemployment and especially youth unemployment their key points.

In a joint press conference with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann he said he saw his country as an example of how Greece might come out of it's debt crisis.

He said that Ireland had met the savings targets of the Troika and made sweeping cuts as well as a liberalisation of it's employment market, adding; "We are a model for other countries that need to come out of crisis."

He said the near collapse of the Irish banking system in the financial crisis of 2008 had hit them hard: "People thought that the income from taxes in the construction sector would be enough, but that bubble burst. But we were the first to recapitalise our banking system." He added thought that this had created a big hurdle in the form of a national debt that was 105 percent of BIP.

He said that since then Ireland had reduced it's budget deficit through cuts, and that next year the economy would grow again at 1.5 per cent.

He also warned against slowing the economy through too many cuts, saying "Austerity on its own is never the answer." He said it would be much better for governments to look at ways of extending credit to small and medium sized businesses.

He added that Ireland was a competitive country that could stand on its own two feet, within the solidarity of the "EU family".

He added: "The Irish are a pragmatic people and as a maritime nation we also understand how to live and work abroad."

Kenny also said that data protection was on the agenda during the Irish presidency and also youth unemployment, and that they were to visit a youth centre to meet youngsters in Austria to look at how the Austrians had managed such high employment. He said Austria had only 4 per cent unemployment whereas in Ireland it was 14 per cent, but it was "heading in the right direction."

He cited the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which benefited Irish farmers and the many organic and Alpine farmers in Austria as one of the ways that the crisis could be eased.

He said: "CAP is undervalued, and is not appreciated for its possibility to provide jobs, economic recovery and more self sufficiency in foodstuffs."

The two political leaders were asked if they wanted to see Greece remaining in the EU and both said yes, but with more time allowed for it to meet its obligations.

Kenny said: "Yes, we want them in the EU, there are challenges that the Greek people and the Greek government have, and it may be that they need more time to deal with those challenges that they face."

Faymann added: "I fully agree", adding that the Greek parliament was heading in the right direction but he also felt it needed more time.

Kenny added that crisis hit states needed to keep the trust of the EU, and to be taken seriously by the public, which was the only way out of the crisis.

Vienna Times

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farmers  Greece  direction  ways  youth  cuts  national  challenges  unemployment  Faymann  Kenny  Greek  crisis  Irish  Ireland  premier  debt  Austria  economy  Vienna

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