Whatever happens, there’s going to be a lot of Euro summitry in the coming months. It seems clear that Germany is pushing for a swift Treaty change to introduce all sorts of legal limits on debt and deficits as the solution to the debt crisis. (You could argue it’s a bit like a flood defense plan that relies on banning rain.) In return for this, the ECB will agree to provide funds to bail out Italy and others, perhaps via turning EFSF into a bank.
Personally, I still think the economics and politics of the “Debt Treaty” approach are terrible. But it’s probably going to happen.
Given that, what should Ireland’s government do? Most likely, with the EU threatening to pull fiscal and bank funding if they don’t co-operate, our leaders will just agree to sign the dotted line at the relevant EU Council meeting and then see if they can get away with not having a referendum. (Unlikely — an Irish referendum will be one of many banana skins the process could encounter).
So here’s one thing that I think they can do. If the ECB is going to move into uncharted territory, then it’s time to ask for a small favour that will barely register as relevant when compared with a huge sovereign bond purchase scheme: Delaying repayment of the IBRC’s ELA debts. While unimportant in the European scheme of things, it would give Enda Kenny a big political win if he could announce the cancellation of the €3.1 billion March 31 promissory note payment.
If you want to read more about this, here‘s a column I’ve written for Business and Finance.