Quotulatiousness

January 31, 2012

Germany issues “secret” document to Greek government on debt repayment

Filed under: Economics, Europe, Government, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:41

Mick Hume recounts the machinations within the European Union:

One outraged Greek government minister described it as ‘the product of a sick imagination’. Another called it ‘absolutely laughable’. The formal title of the document in question is ‘Assurance of Compliance in the Second GRC Programme’. It is neither a joke, nor a sick fantasy. It reads more like the draft of a death warrant for democracy, first in Greece and then elsewhere in Europe.

This supposedly secret document was issued by Angela Merkel’s German government to its partners in the Eurozone — and then carefully leaked, to ensure maximum impact. It sets out two extraordinary measures that the Germans want to impose to ensure that the Greek authorities comply with the swingeing budget cuts which they promised but have apparently failed to deliver to the markets’ satisfaction.

First, it says Greece must ‘legally commit itself to giving absolute priority to future debt service’. All state revenues must go first to paying debts and interest due, before a cent can be spent on public services. And the Greek government will not be allowed to threaten to default on its debts in future; if it cannot pay, it must accept that ‘further cuts’ will be ‘the only possible consequence’.

Second, the Germans want the Eurozone to oversee the ‘transfer of national budgetary sovereignty’ from Greece to ‘the European level’ under a ‘strict steering and control system’. The plan is for the Eurozone group to appoint a budget commissioner to oversee Greek finances, with the power ‘to veto decisions not in line with the budgetary targets’ set by European and international officials. If that was not humiliating enough, the Greeks would also have to look happy to bend the knee by ensuring that this new system of outside control ‘is fully enshrined in national law, preferably through constitutional amendment’.

To get the Greeks to agree to these unprecedented conditions, the German document also offers incentives — or as we used to call it, threats. If Athens does not accept the compliance measures, then ‘the Eurozone will not be able to approve guarantees for GRC II’. That is the second huge bailout of €130 billion which Greece desperately needs if it is not to go officially bust in weeks. The ‘Assurance of Compliance’ document is a ‘secret’ blackmail note.

Update: Ah, Monty captures the absurd state of the EU perfectly in a throw-away line in today’s Daily DOOM — “Like German porn, the politics of the Greek bailout just keep getting weirder and more complicated.”

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