Who’s in charge of Europe?

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY NIKOS XYDAKIS

How much weight might a bank carry, as op­posed to that of a coun­try? It ap­pears that on the scale of for­mer Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank Pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Trichet, the in­ter­ests of banks weighed more heav­ily than those of states and cit­i­zens. It is with this kind of logic that Trichet acted with re­gard to the han­dling of the cri­sis in Greece and Ire­land, a fact re­vealed through his black­mail­ing cor­re­spon­dence ad­dressed to the coun­tries’ gov­ern­ments dur­ing the 2010-11 pe­riod (pub­lished in Kathimerini yes­ter­day and on March 9, 2014). The let­ters con­firm what an­a­lysts and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers have main­tained all along: Greece and Ire­land were sac­ri­ficed so that ma­jor fi­nan­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions with in­vest­ment ex­po­sure to Greece’s sov­er­eign debt and Ir­ish lenders would not be af­fected. This kind of in­ter­ven­tion dis­played by a cen­tral banker, a per­son who ef­fec­tively does not come un­der po­lit­i­cal con­trol and is beyond ac­count­abil­ity ought to be scru­ti­nized in mul­ti­ple ways. First of all, it shows a trans-Euro­pean or­ga­ni­za­tion, the ECB, of­fi­cially in charge of the eu­ro­zone’s common cur­rency and bank op­er­a­tions, im­pos­ing ex­tra-in­sti­tu­tional fis­cal pol­icy and, by ex­ten­sion, de­ci­sively in­flu­enc­ing the course of the Eurosys­tem’s mem­ber states. Se­condly, judg­ing by the re­sults, the ECB’s moves, which ei­ther showed signs of cow­ardice or came far too late, were un­able to avert the cri­sis. In­stead, they passed the cost onto the coun­tries and pushed the eu­ro­zone into a spi­ral of down­ward re­ces­sion as well as de­fla­tion. A third as­pect is the cru­cial trans­fer of power which is be­ing ob­served within Europe as fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions are im­pos­ing their own will on Euro­pean in­sti­tu­tions and ad­min­is­tra­tions. The last ob­ser­va­tion was sadly re­in­forced by rev­e­la­tions made yes­ter­day by the In­ter­na­tion- al Con­sor­tium of In­ves­tiga­tive Jour­nal­ists with re­gard to se­cret deals made be­tween Lux­em­bourg and 343 multi­na­tional com­pa­nies in view of the lat­ter re­duc­ing their tax bills back home. In charge of the fis­cal haven lo­cated in the heart of Europe is re­cently elected Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Juncker, oth­er­wise com­mit­ted to bat­tling tax eva­sion and safe­guard­ing healthy com­pe­ti­tion among the EU’s lead­ing mem­ber states. It looks like the Euro­pean cri­sis, be­sides the fi­nan­cial as­pect, is rapidly turn­ing into a po­lit­i­cal and moral cri­sis as well.

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