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European Union

The recent spring European Council (i.e. heads of Government in the EU) gave the final go-ahead for a comprehensive package of measures to preserve the financial stability of the eurozone and to strengthen economic governance. Both of these initiatives have implications for Ireland and raise serious questions concerning the real commitments of the European Council and the EU generally to proceed in a balanced and inclusive manner.

Ireland is in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis. It is also in the midst of a serious governance 
crisis. Confidence in the governance structures of the country has been undermined. 
Trust in the regulatory system, the political system and public administration has been damaged severely. 
There is widespread public anger at these failures.
 
Ireland’s international reputation has also been damaged. This is a matter of grave concern, and should be 
The political and social achievements of Europe are under threat. Public over 
indebtedness, particularly in a context of crisis, exposes states to pressures to cut back 
investment in the field of social protection, access to health-care, education and housing. 
This reduces their ability to take action against inequalities and discrimination. The 
disappearance of jobs as a result of company relocations and technological change in the 
Fiscal Measures in the Programme 
 
Taxation 
 
Lowering of personal income tax bands and credits or equivalent measures 
A reduction in pension tax relief and pension related deductions 
A reduction in general tax expenditures 
Excise and other tax increases 
A reduction in private pension tax reliefs 
A reduction in general tax expenditures 
Site Valuation Tax to fund local services 
A reform of capital gains tax and acquisitions tax 

The insult to Ireland’s poor and vulnerable people originally perpetrated by EU Commissioner for Economic and Monitory Affairs, Mr Olli Rehn (when he refused to meet representatives of these groups during his recent visit to Ireland) has been repeated and worsened by the terms of the bailout agreement. The bailout programme proposes to target unemployed people while they make no provision for any new jobs that unemployed people could take up to exit unemployment.

Social Justice Ireland has claimed that Government’s proposals to adjust Ireland’s budget in the next four years is unjust and unfair. Government is proposing to achieve adjustments of €15bn by 2014 through taking €10bn in cuts and only €5bn in tax increases.  Ireland’s total tax-take is one of the lowest in the European Union. It is possible to raise Ireland’s total tax-take by €10bn and still remain a low-tax country.

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