President Higgins suggests Europe is "ditching some of its better achievements"

The President has criticised aspects of EU and ECB policy in a pair of newspaper interviews

President Higgins suggests Europe is "ditching some of its better achievements"

Image: RollingNews.ie

The President has suggested the government could improve public services, if it increased borrowing.

In two newspaper interviews, the President criticises the effect of EU spending rules and the European Central Bank (ECB).

In an interview with the Irish Independent, President Michael D Higgins is critical of EU fiscal rules, which limit the amount governments can borrow.

At a time of historically low interest rates, he is suggesting the government could borrow "cheap money" to invest in health, housing and education.

"How can you say it is good policy for the European Investment Bank to be overflowing with funds and interest rates to be negative - they're not 1pc anywhere in the discernible world - that you wouldn't be investing in all these issues," he told the newspaper.

The President also said at a time when the country faces a housing crisis there is a "huge ethical question" about the activities of vulture funds in the property market.

In a second interview with the Irish Times, the President expressed concerns about the future of the European Union.

He said the EU was "ditching some of its better achievements" in the area of promoting social cohesion.

On the subject of the ECB, he told the newspaper's Fintan O'Toole: “I remember saying about the European Central Bank that there was no central bank in the history of central banks that had ever had any impact on unemployment or poverty while it had one instrument, keeping inflation below 2 per cent. And there is no inflation in Europe.

“They’ve argued that matters are so complicated they can’t be left to citizens. You could end up almost at the European level with a kind of a fiscal council that removes all conscious decision-making from the people," he added.

In both interviews, the President is refusing to be drawn on whether he wants to stay on for a second term at Áras an Uachtaráin.