So we know that Europe matters in Ireland. But do we know just how much Europe matters in Ireland after Nama? We know, of course that a good chunk of Nama’s “assets” are located in Europe [tangent: not about Nama as such, but the Sunday Tribune reported that Irish investors own 3,500 apartments and property sites in Budapest… 3,500! And now a vulture capitalist is looking to buy that knock-down prices from, we must imagine, pretty desperate sellers]. And we know that Europe has helped give Nama some shape: it was the European Central Bank that called for the Special Purpose Vehicle, for example, and now the European Commission is in the process of reviewing state assistance to bailed out Irish banks, such as Anglo Irish. What else is in the pipeline? Well, we certainly know that interest rates in Ireland are set to rise if growth does emerge in Europe and we know that that decision is not taken in Dublin – the known unknown here is just what effect rising interest rates will have on the property market and, in turn, on the valuations of our new “assets”. We also know that Lisbon Treaty will kick-in soon and that it will impact on Irish society – perhaps a known unknown is what form that impact will take, for example on Ireland’s strategy for attracting inward investment [Article 207 of Lisbon might raise pertinent questions here]. Perhaps, then, one final known unknown is this: we know Europe will matter in Ireland after Nama but what spatial effects will it have and how can geographers get to grips with these effects?

Alistair Fraser

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