EU finance ministers to meet on Irish aid plan Sunday

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European Union finance ministers are to meet in Brussels on Sunday to discuss the EU aid plan for debt-ravaged Ireland, a French source said Saturday.

The source familiar with the issue said French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde had called for a meeting of her colleagues from eurozone countries, to be joined afterwards by ministers from the rest of the EU.

Originally it had been planned for them to communicate simply by telephone to approve the package worth 85 billion euros (113 billion dollars) and its conditions, the source added.

EU heavyweights Germany and France are urging a rapid conclusion to negotiations on the package, which will be accompanied by drastic Irish austerity measures, before markets open on Monday.

The International Monetary Fund is also involved in the rescue plan.

German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle, in an interview to be published in the Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag, said that while targets should be agreed it was up to Ireland how to meet them, including specific tax measures.

However, he added that EU loan guarantees would be tied to budget savings, better control of banks and increases in state revenue.

Bruederle had been asked about Dublin's decision not to raise its prized low corporation tax of 12.5 percent in the austerity plan revealed Wednesday, comprising 10 billion euros of spending cuts and five billion euros in tax hikes.

The plan also involves cuts to public sector pay, pensions and social welfare in a bid to slash a huge deficit and save 15 billion euros by 2014.

© 2010 AFP

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