Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ireland and the EU: buntáistí agus míbhuntáistí

Anthony Faiola has a good article in the Washington Post today about Ireland's economy. It focuses on the pros and cons of Ireland's EU membership, including its usage of the Euro. Although Ireland's membership of the Euro means that has been spared wild Iceland-style currency movements, it also means that Ireland does not have power over its own economy. That power is now centralized by the EU in Brussels. Ireland cannot set its own interest rate, for example.

In October, when Ireland took the unilateral step of guaranteeing all Irish bank deposits, this drew complaints from the EU, and from our neighbour the UK which worried that UK bank deposits would migrate to "safer" Irish banks. The comments on this thread sum up the Irish response to these complaints (sample: "The whinging Brits already nationalised 2 of their banks without any regard for the Irish").

It can be argued, as Anthony Faiola does in the Washington Post article, that membership of the EU is both good (more stable currency, free access to market) and bad (loss of economic decision-making) for Ireland. When I would write essays at school in Ireland, an all-purpose phrase I used in practically every essay was "Tá buntáistí agus míbhuntáistí ag baint leis" - meaning "there are advantages and disadvantages to it". So it is with Ireland's EU membership at the moment.

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