Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Germans against bailing out Ireland, poll shows

Some 70 per cent of Germans are opposed to bailing out Ireland from its current financial difficulties, according to a poll.

The Open Europe survey, conducted in collaboration with the Institute for Free Enterprise in Berlin, revealed the majority of Germans were against using public money to assist other countries that have got into financial difficulty.

Those surveyed were asked to pick which response closest described their view on the statement: “The German Federal Government has indicated that Germany would be prepared to financially support countries like Ireland “which have been hit quite hard by the banking crisis”.

While just under 25 per cent suuported the idea of German taxpayers’ money being spent on helping countries like Ireland or Greece, more than 70 per cent agreed were against it.

Open Europe director Lorraine Mullally said: “As the global recession limbers on, there’s been a lot of talk about the possibility of stronger EU member states bailing out the weaker ones, but until now no-one has asked what voters think.

She said: “Any plan to bail out EU countries depends on the willingness of German taxpayers to cough up — and this poll clearly shows they are not keen.”

“In particular, there have been suggestions that Ireland will somehow be offered a lifeline in this crisis, if only they show their appreciation of ‘Europe’ and vote in favour of the Lisbon Treaty. It’s important that Irish voters realise there is no appetite among German voters for such a rescue package, which will make it very difficult to achieve in practice.”

“To suggest otherwise is dishonest and very misleading.”

Wolfgang Muller from the Institute for Free Enterprise in Berlin said: “This poll confirms that German taxpayers are not willing to accept an ever increasing fiscal burden. At a time when Germany’s financial equalisation scheme between the federal government and the states is under increasing scrutiny, there is a need to reward the achievers and not to increase redistribution.

Mr Muller said: “Bailing Ireland out would send the wrong signals to governments in the EU. Any plan to try and “buy” Ireland’s Yes vote to the Lisbon treaty with talk of a bailout must be strongly rejected.”

A German bailout operation of other eurozone countries could cost the German taxpayer up to €1.5 billion euro per year.

This article first appeared in the Irish Times.