Ireland leaves the EU/IMF programme

Ireland leaves the three-year EU/IMF programme of assistance today Monday (16 December 2013). Our economy is growing, our finances have stabilised and unemployment is coming down. Our strategy is working in Ireland, and our people are getting back to work.

We are the first country in the euro area to exit such a programme and it is a significant moment, not just for Ireland, but for Europe. This crisis has been a test of national governments, of European solidarity and of the European project itself.  Our achievement today shows that while Europe needs to find answers to its critics, the critics must in turn recognise the real and substantial signs of progress, hard-won by our people.

The decision Ireland has taken to exit the programme without any further precautionary credit line is possible because of what we have achieved.  Competitiveness has been regained as costs and prices have risen more slowly than our trading partners. We have made a budgetary adjustment equivalent to 18% of our GDP and introduced significant structural reforms.  We have regained the confidence of international investors.  We have funds immediately available to us equivalent to our entire funding needs in 2014.  From next year, we will have a primary budget surplus, which means we are raising more in revenue than we spend on everything excluding debt interest.

But the measure of success I use before all of those is jobs.  From a situation where we were losing 1,600 jobs a week during the crisis, we are now creating 1,200.  Although unemployment remains unacceptably high at 12.5%, it has declined consistently from over 15% two years ago.

There is no better boost for national morale and no better measure of the recovering health of our real economy, and the sustainability of our future.

Job creation is fundamental to our plan of action in Ireland as it must be in Europe.  During our EU presidency earlier this year, together with our EU partners we adopted important measures in this area.  The establishment of a Youth Guarantee is perhaps the one that most directly addressed the concerns of a rising generation, who risk feeling that the future has less to offer them than it did for their parents.  It states that we will not let our young people fall into unemployment without making every effort we can to equip them to succeed through hard work.

Of course, the primary task of political leaders is to set the right conditions for job creation, and that includes stable public finances, as well as targeted investment.

The example of Ireland shows that there is a difficult but achievable balancing act to be done.  Through over 270 individual actions required by the EU/IMF programme, and enormous sacrifices from Irish households, we have brought our debt under control and made Ireland a safe bet for international lenders again.  This has had to be balanced, however, with significant measures to ensure that the difficult solutions to our legacy of banking debt are achievable and respond to the most basic demands of justice.  It has to be balanced with recognition that the sacrifices asked of people in the name of fiscal responsibility must not themselves fatally undermine the real economic growth necessary for any of this to work.

You cannot cut your way to jobs and growth, and you cannot spend your way to solvency.  Where there is an undeniable commitment to reform of national public finances, this must be matched with collective European action to ease the burden, especially in terms of breaking the vicious circle of banking and sovereign debt.

I am glad to say that, in Ireland’s case, the European response has been forthcoming in some important areas.  Key terms of the programme were renegotiated, the interest rate reduced and a resolution found to the issue of the Anglo Irish Bank promissory note.

However, work remains to be done at a European level.  We must complete the banking union project, involving not just common supervision, but a common resolution framework with an appropriate fiscal backstop and effective deposit insurance arrangements.

If a bank anywhere in Europe can pose a threat to the financial system of all its members, the necessary framework must be in place to respond to that risk.   We have set out deliberately to integrate the European economy for the prosperity–and security of all our people.  We seek to realise the benefits together, and we must guard against the risks together.

The people of Ireland have already been working for years, and will be working for many more, to emerge from under the weight of debt recklessly accumulated by a handful of banks, as well as the unwinding of the property and construction bubble it financed.

Through their determination, and with the solidarity of our partners in Europe, we are showing it can be done, and that Europe can rise to the challenges that the global financial crisis has thrown at us. 

Our determination will not falter now that we are beginning to see results, and nor must Europe’s commitment to shared and decisive action.

Links and references

Visit the government of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affair’s website at

See also

Noonan Michael (2013), “Ireland's EU presidency: Towards stability, jobs and growth” in OECD Observer,  No 295 Q2 2013:

© OECD Observer No 297, Q4 December 2013

The first sentence of this article was revised 23 December 2013 to add the date for exiting the programme. 

Economic data


Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive print editions delivered to you directly

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • The carbon clock is ticking: OECD’s Gurría on CNBC
  • IMF Finance and Development Magazine, December 2015

    Powering the Planet: The Quest for Sustainable Energy

    Read the magazine here
    Visit their website
  • In Iceland, geothermal power is being used for almost everything. Scientists and engineers from around the world are participating in a course at the United Nations University (UNU) to learn how to use geothermal energy in their own countries.
  • They are green and local--It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa.
  • Pole to Paris Project
  • Send a message from #EarthToParis.
  • From the World Bank: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty
  • Black carbon causes millions of deaths every year and contributes to the warming of the planet. The United Nations Environment Programme explains how reducing black carbon can save lives and help combat climate change.
  • In order to face global warming, Asia needs at least $40 billion per year, derived from both the public and private sector. Read how to bridge the climate financing gap on the Asian Bank of Development's website.
  • How can cities fight climate change?
    Discover projects in Denmark, Canada, Australia, Japan and Mexico.
  • 10 climate-friendly habits everyone should adopt: Although the main aim of COP21 is to reach an international agreement on climate change between government stakeholders, it is also the perfect opportunity to remind citizens of how everyone can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their day-to-day lives.
  • Climate: What's changed, what hasn't, what we can do about it.
    Lecture by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, hosted by the London School of Economics and Aviva Investors in association with ClimateWise, London, UK, 3 July 2015.
  • Do you know the OECD’s web ending? Or which Serbian American engineer is famous for his electric cars? Try our latest OECD Observer crossword. It’s full of fun facts, simplex in style, and gives you the solution at the tip of a button. You can time yourself too.
  • French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron came to the OECD on 18 September for a webcast discussion on economic reforms, inequality and the outlook, with OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. You can watch the event by clicking on the photo.

  • Climate change: “We should not disagree when scientists tell us we have a window of opportunity–10-15 years–to turn this thing around” argues Senator Bernie Sanders.

  • In the long-run, the EU benefits from migration, says OECD Head of International Migration Division Jean-Christophe Dumont.
  • Is technological progress slowing down? Is it speeding up? At the OECD, we believe the research from our Future of ‪Productivity‬ project helps to resolve this paradox.
  • An employee prepares breakfast in front of the Eiffel tower at the Parisian luxury hotel Le Plaza Athenee. Nowhere in the world has more accommodation available on Airbnb than Paris. Now the home-sharing website that has transformed budget travel is giving super-deluxe hotels a fright too.
    ©REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
  • Is inequality bad for growth? That redistribution boosts economies is not established by the evidence says FT economics editor Chris Giles. Read more on
  • Low interest rates here to stay for half a century, says OECD director Adrian Blundell-Wignall.
  • Bill Gates visited the OECD on 26 June. He met with the Secretary-General Angel Gurría to discuss areas of collaboration with his foundation and participated at a briefing session on official development assistance modernisation with OECD experts.
  • The People’s Republic of China decided to enhance longstanding collaboration with the OECD and to join the OECD Development Centre, in a historic visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on 1 July to the OECD in Paris.
    Read about it on
  • Catherine Mann, OECD Chief Economist, explains on Bloomberg why "too much bank lending can slow economic growth".
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at .
  • Come va la vita in Italia? How's life in Italy? The OECD Better Life Index is an interactive online platform in seven languages that goes beyond GDP by offering important insights into measuring well-being and quality of life. Try it for yourself!

Most Popular Articles


What issue are you most concerned about in 2015?

Euro crisis
Global warming
International conflict

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2015