Debt crisis: Irish president condemns ‘hegemonic’ EU

3 May 2013 – Presseurop Financial Times, The Irish Times

Irish President Michael Higgins is under fire following an interview with the Financial Times in which said that the EU was “hegemonic” and faces a “moral crisis” as much as an economic one. He also urged the European Central Bank to reform or risk social upheaval and a loss of popular legitimacy. He has attracted the ire of critics who say he has overstepped the constitutional limits of his office. But this should not lead Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny to reach “for his censor’s pencil”, writes the Irish Times:

In articulating the case for a social Europe and a rejection of orthodox neo-liberalism, perhaps the President, in his inimitable way, is straying beyond the ideological horizon of the government. [...] Mr Higgins, in pushing boundaries and urging that we develop a new vision of the EU and our place in it, is playing an essential role in stimulating, without deciding, a debate that is necessary and overdue.

The constitutionality of Higgins’ comments should be left to Ireland to debate, notes the Financial Times editorial. But “the issues he addressed are precisely those we should want elected politicians to grapple with publicly.” The economic daily continues –

Mr Higgins may think that the moral arguments stack up against austerity. But it also matters morally if borrowing today burdens future generations; and if public borrowing is spent on privileged insiders’ interests. He is, however, right that the debate must be had.

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