ICTU Meeting on Fiscal Compact Treaty

This morning I attended a meeting of the Executive Council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to speak about the Fiscal Compact treaty (yes I did a presentation at IBEC on Wednesday and no, I’m not on a campaign to bring back social partnership.)

For once, I didn’t give a PowerPoint presentation (if PowerPoint makes you stupid, then I must be dim as a plank at this stage) but instead spoke from some notes, which you can find here.

I expanded on my opinion that, despite its flawed nature, Ireland’s best interests were served by signing the treaty. (Another speaker was more negative about whether ICTU should support the Treaty).

One issue I discussed (and will probably discuss more in the future) is whether there could be an EU or IMF-sponsored bailout if Ireland doesn’t sign the treaty and fails to regain market access. My sense is that there would be no political will in Europe for a bailout for a country that would not sign the Compact.

In relation to the IMF, I’d recommend people go to pages 98-100 of this report from December 2010.  You’ll see the following “Overall, the proposed access would entail substantial risks to the Fund. The Fund would be highly exposed to Ireland in terms of both the stock of outstanding credit and the projected debt service, for an extended period and in a context of high overall debt and debt service burdens.” An IMF-only deal for Ireland in 2013 would greatly magnify these risks. A small-scale sticking plaster deal following a large fiscal restructuring and a rapid austerity programme might be a possibility.

I don’t want to talk too much about the ICTU meeting but my sense from the questions I got (I left before any internal discussion) was that the attendees were considering the issues in a very thoughtful manner. It will be interesting to see how they decide to campaign.

Finally, I’d note that I’ve had some feedback from people confused by my “sign this flawed treaty” argument but all I can say is that this isn’t a simple black or white issue. And I’m prone to being a “shades of grey type” at the best of times.