Economic Problems of Ireland in Europe
This paper uses the recent controversy between the European Union and the Irish Republic to discuss the more general relation between the European Union, the EMU and the member countries. Despite outstanding economic growth and budget surpluses, Ireland has been criticized by the European Commission because it has reduced taxes in the context of a relatively high rate of inflation. The first part of the paper considers the ways in which the EMU is likely to affect inflation and cyclical unemployment in the member countries over the longer term. The second part deals more specifically with the current Irish situation and the reasons for an EU reprimand of a very small country. That part suggests that an alternative standard, based on the principle of 'do no harm' would have lead to a different outcome. Finally, the paper describes a policy of creating investment-based personal retirement accounts that would allow Ireland to share its future budget surpluses with taxpayers in a way that does not contribute to inflationary pressures.
Published: The Thirty-First Geary Lecture. Dublin, Ireland: The Economic and Social Research Institute, 2001.