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The speed and severity of the decline in the Irish fiscal position in recent years raises a number of important issues regarding the assessment of fiscal policy within the EU. From a position of relative strength, with large surpluses and low debt to GDP ratio, the Irish public finances have rapidly deteriorated, culminating in an Excessive Deficit Procedure being launched in early 2009. In hindsight, it is evident that tax revenues were on an unsustainable path in recent years due, in large part, to structural imbalances within the economy, mainly associated with the housing market. The excess growth in the latter culminated in large and transitory tax revenue windfalls, which ultimately proved unsustainable.
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