14 MAR 2011
By Leigh Phillips
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Greece has won a reduction of 100 basis points - one percent - in the interest rate it pays on its €110 billion loan and an extension of the payment period from the current three and a half years to seven and a half.
Ireland was offered a similar reduction, but the country's new prime minister said he could not accept the terms demanded.
"It was impossible to reach a deal for Ireland this evening," Taoiseach Enda Kenny told reporters after an acrimonious seven-hour meeting of eurozone premiers and presidents in Brussels on Friday.
"I wasn't prepared to contemplate a [common eurozone tax base]," he continued, adding that Ireland still intends to be "constructive" about discussions about EU tax policy as contained in a ‘euro pact' agreed by leaders early Saturday morning, but that was as far as Dublin was willing to go.
He said that Ireland had been asked "to make a reference to our corporate tax rate."
Referring to an angry confrontation between Kenny and French President Nicolas Sarkozy over corporate taxes, he said: "France has had very strong views on corporate tax rates for quite some time, but then so do I."
He said that Ireland unlike Greece had not asked for a loan extension. He insisted: "This country wants to pay its way. We seek no evasion of our responsibilities."
"It will be difficult" to continue the discussions, he added, "but I am convinced we can find a way."
Sarkozy for his part noted that the issue is "very sensitive for our Irish friends."
"There is a discussion that is progressing in one way or another ... but there is no certainty," he continued, asking for "at least a gesture."
In return for Greece's concessions, Athens has committed to a detailed fire-sale privatisation programme worth some €50 billion.
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