Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Search

 

Cablegate: Ambassador Rooney's Meetings in Brussels

VZCZCXRO0409
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHDL #0415/01 2751631
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 021631Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY DUBLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0230
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHBL/AMCONSUL BELFAST IMMEDIATE 1078

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DUBLIN 000415

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/02/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON EFIN EI EUN
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR ROONEY'S MEETINGS IN BRUSSELS

REF: A. DUBLIN 412
B. DUBLIN 361
C. DUBLIN 360

DUBLIN 00000415 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: Ambassador Daniel M. Rooney. Reasons 1.4(b/d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: On September 30, Ambassador Rooney met with
Ireland's Permanent Representative to the EU, Rory
Montgomery, and separately with Irish European Commissioner
Charlie McCreevy (Internal Market and Services). In
wide-ranging discussions about the EU and Ireland, the
Ambassador and his interlocutors touched on the October 2
Lisbon Treaty referendum and who might get the new top jobs
in the EU if Lisbon comes into effect, possible Irish
candidates for the 2009-2014 European Commission, the EU and
the G-20, the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), and
the upcoming budget debate in Ireland. END SUMMARY.

------------------------
LISBON: "'YES'" WILL WIN
------------------------

2. (C) Both Montgomery and McCreevy were confident the "yes"
vote would win out in the October 2 Lisbon Treaty referendum
(ref A). Montgomery, while predicting about a 60-40 spread
in favor of Lisbon, cautioned that everyone he talks to is
pro-Lisbon. Continuing in that vein, Montgomery noted the
"disturbing gulf" on Lisbon that he said seemed to be
manifesting itself between the pro-Lisbon elites and
lower-income groups, as well as between the pro-Lisbon
40-and-up age groups and the young. Montgomery worried that
these splits could be a symptom of an increasingly divided
Irish society.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

---------------------------
WHO MIGHT FILL NEW EU JOBS?
---------------------------

3. (C) If Lisbon passes and goes into effect, Montgomery
said, one of the first questions the EU would face would be
who would fill the new top EU jobs foreseen in the treaty.
He said former British PM Tony Blair was the top candidate
for the new post of President of the European Council, for
lack of other viable candidates of that stature. If Blair
did go for the post, said Montgomery, Ireland would be
obliged to support him in recognition of his extraordinary
efforts as PM to bring peace to Northern Ireland.

4. (C) Montgomery said there were several candidates for the
new "EU Foreign Minister" post. He first mentioned Finnish
Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn, who he characterized
as low-key but competent and well respected. Montgomery said
also that Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was a viable
candidate, along with former Commissioner for External
Relations Chris Patten. Since Patten is British, cautioned
Montgomery, Patten would be considered only if his compatriot
Tony Blair were not named to the President post.

---------------------------
NEXT IRISH EU COMMISSIONER?
---------------------------

5. (C) Montgomery and McCreevy also analyzed how the Irish
nominee for the 2009-2014 European Commission would be
chosen. McCreevy, a current Commissioner, said that one
complicating factor was uncertainty as to when or if Lisbon
would go into effect. If Czech President Vaclav Klaus delays
further his signing of the treaty, Lisbon's status could
remain unclear for months beyond the Irish referendum
(reftels). McCreevy speculated that, regardless of whether
Lisbon's status is resolved within the next few months, the
EU would probably soon call for one nominee from each member
state, as foreseen by Lisbon under the agreement between
Ireland and the rest of the EU. Both of our interlocutors
stressed that Prime Minister Cowen would be the key
decision-maker in nominating the next Commissioner, and that
Cowen would first face a difficult decision. Montgomery put
it as follows: as a "matter of the heart," Cowen would prefer
to nominate someone from his own party, the centrist Fianna
Fail (FF); however, as a "matter of the head," Cowen's
choices in FF were all members of parliament -- and
nominating a member of parliament would require a by-election
in that member's constituency that FF would likely lose.
With a tenuous hold on a slim majority of seats in parliament
and sagging poll numbers, said our interlocutors, Cowen and
his FF could ill afford the risk of a by-election.

6. (C) On who the Commissioner nominee might be, McCreevy
professed to be uninvolved in the process, but speculated
that FF nominees might be Minister for Transport Noel
Dempsey, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Trade,
Enterprise and Employment Mary Coughlan, or Minister for

DUBLIN 00000415 002.2 OF 002


Health Mary Harney (NOTE: Harney is not a member of FF, but
as a cabinet member she is nevertheless key to FF's continued
hold on power. END NOTE.) While McCreevy professed not to
know who the nominee might be if Cowen went outside FF,
Montgomery mentioned former European Parliament President Pat
Cox, who has also been a very visible pro-Lisbon campaigner.
Montgomery said a less likely, but possible candidate was
Ambassador to the U.S. John Bruton, a former Prime Minister
and leading figure in the primary opposition party Fine Gael.

--------------------------------
SMALLER EU MEMBERS' G-20 WORRIES
--------------------------------

7. (C) During a discussion of the Ambassador's attendance at
the September 24-25 G-20 summit in his hometown of
Pittsburgh, Montgomery remarked that mid-sized EU states,
such as Poland, were concerned that G-20 members Great
Britain, France, Germany and Italy "might not stick to the EU
script" on financial and economic issues in the still
relatively new and untested G-20 forum, thus lessening the
influence of EU states who help decide EU positions within
the EU but are left without direct representation in the G-20.

-------------------------------
BAD BANKS AND BUDGET IN IRELAND
-------------------------------

8. (C) On the upcoming establishment of the National Asset
Management Agency (NAMA) that would buy and manage bad loans
from banks, and the budget debate coming in December for a
fiscally strapped Ireland (refs B-C), Montgomery (STRICTLY
PROTECT) said that the EU was watching closely. He said NAMA
might prove to be a laboratory for other EU member states who
could find themselves forced to stave off bank collapses with
a similar policy. The same went for the budget, he said,
with other EU member states facing the need to make budget
cuts that would be as drastic and painful as those Ireland
would be facing in December. Montgomery argued that the
biggest cuts would come in public sector salaries, with
Ireland (like other EU member states) paying "too many" civil
servants "too much" to provide public services that could be
provided for much less. Other cuts, said Montgomery would be
much more difficult and require perhaps more political will
than could be mustered. On NAMA and the budget, McCreevy, an
ex-Finance Minister said simply that his experience taught
him that the government needed to act quickly to keep the
public and press from dwelling on the negative. "If you
wait," he said, "it'll only get worse."
ROONEY

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
World Headlines

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.