“Don’t blame the fire brigade for fire damage”, ECB Exective Board member Benoît Coeuré urged Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee MEPs at a hearing held on Thursday to assess the economic crisis recovery work of the ECB/EU Commission/IMF “Troika”. This followed a committee debate on Wednesday about which findings to flag up in the Troika Inquiry report, which the committee will vote on in the last week of February.
Mr Coeuré insisted to MEPs that although lessons must be learnt from how the Troika had operated, matters would have been much worse without it.
In both debates MEPs broadly accepted that reforms in the rescue “programme” countries had been necessary and that the financial crisis had served as a catalyst for them. However many pointed out mistakes in the Troika setup that could have been avoided from the very start, thus lessening the difficulties the countries now faced. These included a lack of accountability, a “one-size-fits-all” approach, and possible breaches of fundamental rights.
When quizzing Mr Coeuré, MEPs focused on the role of the ECB, suggesting that the ECB may have erred in recommending labour law reforms and in strongly resisting suggestions that private investors should take a hit in order to reduce Greece’s debt.
Rapporteurs Othmar Karas (EPP, AT) and Liem Hoang Ngoc (S&D, FR) will now lead talks with other MEPs to finalise their findings report which is to be put to a committee vote at the end of February.