• Frances Fitzgerald

European Parliament resolution calls for rule change to allow more QE purchases of Irish debt

Press Statement from Frances Fitzgerald MEP


Wednesday 12th February 2020


European Parliament resolution calls for rule change to allow more QE purchases of Irish debt - Fitzgerald


Frances Fitzgerald, MEP for Dublin, today (Wednesday) welcomed a vote of approval for a European Parliament resolution which calls for a change in ECB restrictions on debt purchases in its Quantitative Easing programme.


Speaking after the vote, Ms. Fitzgerald said: “The ECB’s self-imposed issuer limit means that it is restricted from buying no more than 33% of eligible bonds from a single state under the Quantitative Easing programme.


“The problem is that the ECB is nearing its bond buying limit for several Member States, including Ireland. If the ECB goes beyond the 33% threshold for Ireland, then we will be at a disadvantage to other Member States and will not be able to reap the full benefits of QE such as cheaper loans to businesses and households.


“I am glad that the European Parliament has adopted my amendment which explicitly recognises this problem and suggested changes to the 33% issuer limit. By doing so, the Parliament has acknowledged that there is a real risk that the ECB will not be in a position to purchase the bonds of several Member States in the very near future. This could put the whole QE programme in jeopardy.”


The proposal is included in the European Parliament’s report on the ‘Annual Activities of the ECB for 2018’.


“It is estimated that the ECB holds over 25% of eligible Irish bonds and that figure keeps increasing with regular purchases of Irish bonds through QE.


“We also have the anomaly of the Anglo Irish Promissory notes which over inflates our exposure to the ECB. In 2013, Irish Central Bank took €25 billion worth of long-term Anglo-Irish bonds onto its books as part of the promissory note deal. Over €8 billion of those bonds have been sold off since, but the outstanding balance is still counted as government debt linked to the ECB.


“We must remember that the QE programme was designed to purchase Member State bonds proportionally on the basis of the size of an economy and population. The 33% limit could cause a divergence with this principle. It is time that the ECB addressed this issue urgently at its next Governing Council meeting in March.”


ENDS


Notes to the Editor:

· Draft final report on the European Parliament’s report on Annual Report of the ECB for 2018: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/A-9-2020-0016_EN.html



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