Ireland Looks to the Future 'With Confidence': PM
Ireland is looking to the future "with confidence" and the European Union's attitude has changed from dealing with disaster to one focused on growth and employment, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny told CNBC on Monday.
Some politicians and analysts have said the European sovereign debt crisis ended after the European Central Bank flooded the markets with liquidity during its two Long-Term Refinancing Operationsand as Greece's debt was restructured in an orderly fashion and the country obtained a second bailout.
Ireland is a very good place for investors with its talented workforce, technology expertise and low taxes, Kenny claimed.
"We've changed structures in our governance in the last 12 months, we're now facing the future with confidence," he said.
The country struggles with 14 percent unemployment because of the recession triggered by the credit crunch. The government was forced to take austerity measures to cut the debt.
"We have a very creative, very imaginative, very energetic young workforce. Clearly the unemployment figures are too high," Kenny said.
But this talented workforce, together with a good business climate, will help Ireland overcome the hardships it is going through now, the prime minister argued. (Check CDS rates for Irish debt here).
"I see no reason why in the next number of years we can't demonstrate and prove that we are the best small country in the world in which to do business," he said. "We see no reason why we shouldn't become a global center for cloud computing and data content storage."
After European Union leaders reached an agreement on a new so-called fiscal compact that will tighten fiscal discipline among member states and sets automatic sanctions for euro zone countries exceeding their budget targets, Ireland announced it would need to hold a referendum for its approval. The UK opposed the new measures.
"I am confident the referendum will pass. This is not an EU Treaty, this is an inter-governmental agreement between 25 countries therefore Ireland cannot stop this, once it's ratified by 12 countries it moves on," Kenny said.
Ratifying the new agreement so that it can come into force on Jan. 4 next year will guarantee that there is stability in Europe and also the knowledge that countries will be able to draw money from the European Union's rescue funds if they ever need it.
"In other words, the train for the future leaves on the 4th of January next year, we want to ensure that our people are on that," he said.
Meanwhile the attitude in European Union leaders' meetings has changed, he said. There is no more talk about the crisis but about growth and jobs, and these will be the centerpieces of talks at meetings from now on, according to Kenny.
"It is in America's interest, and the world's interest, that European economies prosper," he said.