EU adopts Ireland bailout plan on eve of budget

EU finance ministers formally adopt Ireland's 85-billion-euro bailout plan, hours before the Irish parliament votes on an austerity budget.

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BRUSSELS // EU finance ministers formally adopted Ireland’s 85-billion-euro bailout plan on Tuesday, hours before the Irish parliament was to vote on an austerity budget.

Ministers from the 27 European Union nations "adopted the decision concerning aid to Ireland, along with the recommendation setting out the conditions" that Dublin must meet in exchange for financial aid, an EU source said.

Later on Tuesday, at 1545 GMT, Irish finance minister Brian Lenihan will deliver a 2011 budget that will contain a combined 6.0 billion euros ($8 billion) of taxation hikes and spending cuts.

The statement will be the first in a series of budgets to implement a total fiscal correction of 15 billion euros over the next four years.

The deal with the EU and the International Monetary Fund for 67.5 billion euros in external loans and guarantees, plus 17.5 billion taken mostly from Ireland's public pension fund, has angered citizens.

The first transfers will be used to shore up Ireland's banking system, battered by the global financial crisis, a property bubble bursting and the deepest recession since the 1930s.

A protester mounted a crane outside the Dail (parliament) on Tuesday morning, with opposition politicians accusing Prime Minister Brian Cowen of selling Irish sovereignty to Brussels and Washington.