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EU not to blame for austerity: Barroso

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EU not to blame for austerity: Barroso

Kenny - Barroso - Photo EC

(DUBLIN) - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso denied on Thursday that the European Union was behind the tough austerity measures that have swept the continent in recent years.

"I know many parts of our societies attribute the current difficulties to European Union level and this is not fair because it was not the European Union that created the problems," Barroso told reporters at Dublin Castle on Thursday.

Barroso was speaking at a joint press conference with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny in Dublin to coincide with the beginning of Ireland's tenure of the six-month rotating EU presidency.

"I want to make this clear because there is a myth that it is the European Union that imposes difficult policies. It's not true," Barroso said.

"The cause of the difficulties some countries are facing is excessive public debt created by national governments and irresponsible financial behaviour, that also accumulated excessive private debt including financial bubbles that happened under the responsibility of national supervisors," he added.

"This is why now countries have to make painful adjustments. Britain is having a very tough budget and Britain is not a member of the euro."

Barroso praised the efforts of Ireland, which hopes to become the first eurozone nation to exit a bailout programme this year after years of painful austerity measures.

In November 2010, Dublin entered an 85-billion-euro ($112 billion) EU-IMF bailout programme after a steep rise in the country's borrowing costs forced the once-booming "Celtic Tiger" economy from the debt markets.

Ireland has shown some positive signs in recent weeks and returned to the syndicated bonds markets for the first time since 2010 on Tuesday, raising 2.5-billion-euros in an offering that was three times oversubscribed.

"I do believe Ireland can send a message of hope to other countries about what can actually be achieved," Kenny said.

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