Monday 17 May 2010

Eurozone transparency: Greek rescue package

It may feel like ancient history, but the EU decisions on the Greek rescue package are only a week old. What do we find, if we want to know more about our collective liabilities?

We look at the latest concrete instance.

In ECOFIN’s euro rescue (15 May 2010), we mentioned that the ECOFIN Council decided on the support package for Greece, the establishment of a European stabilisation mechanism and a commitment to accelerate fiscal consolidation “where warranted”.

We noted that the ministers welcomed the “ambitious and realistic” consolidation and reform programme of Greece, and promised the first disbursement of aid by the eurozone members by 19 May 2010.

How much more do we find in the conclusions of the extraordinary meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN), representing the 27 EU member states, from 9 to 10 May 2010 (document 9596/10)?

On page 6:

First, following the successful conclusion of procedures in euro area Member States and the meeting of euro area Heads of State or Government, the way has been cleared for the implementation of the support package for Greece. The Commission has signed today, on behalf of the euro area Member States, the loan agreement with Greece and the first disbursement will proceed, as planned, before 19 May. The Council strongly supports the ambitious and realistic consolidation and reform programme of the Greek government.

This is it.

From the viewpoint of clarity and transparency, we can make the following four observations:

1. There are no document references or links to the procedures concluded in the euro area member states.
2. There are no document references or links to the support package for Greece.
3. There are no document references or links to the loan agreement signed by the Commission with Greece.
4. There are no document references or links to the consolidation and reform programme of the Greek government.

For a programme of €80 billion from the eurozone countries (and €30 billion from the International Monetary Fund), the documentation readily made available to the media and the public can hardly be called excessive or particularly helpful.

In most euro area countries the purchase of a municipal bicycle stand would probably be more precisely presented and documented, every step of the way.

Decisions are taken in the name of about 330 million people in the eurozone or 500 million in the EU, but is the population more than a nuisance?

Ralf Grahn


  1. The whole package is of course very exceptional, and as it was imperative to have it hastily decided on (probably even faster than the municipal bicycle stand would be), it is understandable that documentation may have some shortcomings.

    However, "some shortcomings" seems to be an understatement in this case, so it's an important point you're making here. How can people take a stand in all of this, when they don't know what's truly happening. This is not something we should be left in the dark about.

  2. Jefferson T.D.,

    I agree with what you say about the haste. Because I wasn't there, I can only imagine the pressures crucial Council and Commission officials, national experts, Commissioner Rehn, finance ministers and the like have been under.

    On the other hand, intergovernmental deals and atypical decisions may escape normal rules for publicity and quality, so the eurozone crisis is an opportunity to study if the rules on transparency are inadequate.

    These are the reasons for the next posts I am working on:

    How the eurozone crisis is reflected in the Official Journal of the European Union and through preparatory documents on Eur-Lex, the legal information portal of the EU.


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