Belfast Telegraph

EU in budget talks with Lenihan

European Commissioner Olli Rehn has urged political parties to agree on measures in next month's Budget.

The Commissioner, who is holding two days of meetings with Government, Opposition and union members, said consensus would be of great benefit to Ireland.

Finnish-born Mr Rehn suggested there should be "broad political support".

He also urged all parties "irrespective of party political differences" to support structural reforms.

The Commissioner held talks with Finance Minister Brian Lenihan and has lined up meetings with Fine Gael's economic delegation headed up by Michael Noonan, the Labour Party led by Joan Burton and Sinn Fein.

He will also meet separately with some union leaders on the final leg of his two-day trip to Dublin.

Talks will centre on the December 7 Budget, which is set to include 6 billion euro savings, and the Government's four year plan to cut 15 billion euro spending.

Mr Rehn, whose brief is economic and monetary affairs, will also address the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) on the economic governance debate in Europe and discuss its implications for the EU, member states and citizens.

The Commissioner was accused of insulting the poor and vulnerable by refusing to meet the Community and Voluntary Pillar that represents the less well off in social partnership.

Sean Healy, Social Justice Ireland director, said that by refusing to meet, Mr Rehn was signing up to the Government's budgetary strategy.

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