Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
The real sins of Varoufakis - Le Monde diplomatique - English edition

The negotiations didn't break down because of an unbridgeable gap between the North and South; creditors and debtors; the German `Ordoliberalism' of Schäuble and Djisselbloem and Greek-style Marxism of Varoufakis and Tsipras. This gap has never existed. They broke down because Varoufakis repeatedly breached the Eurogroup's etiquette. In doing so, he challenged the very foundations of the eurozone's mode of governance.

The Eurogroup is not a democratic institution. Though it is made up of finance ministers from democratically elected governments, these ministers meet as individuals who are there on the assumption that they will build consensus, make compromises, and reach agreements amongst themselves.

The etiquette of the Eurogroup is that one leaves one's national interests at the door. Relations are more personal than political. Ideologies and grand statements of political doctrine have no place in the body's deliberations. If a minister is constrained because of a difficult situation at home, this is treated as an understandable -- if unfortunate -- problem that needs to be solved. Ministers find in the Eurogroup a source of energy and support for taking on their own domestic populations. It is also a private club of sorts, where what goes on inside remains secret. Ministers attending the Eurogroup are transformed from politicians representing interests into experts seeking solutions to common problems.

The hostility towards Varoufakis stems from his breaking of all of these rules. He refused to play the Eurogroup game. It's not really about riding a motorbike, wearing combat trousers and being a celebrity academic-blogger -- though his charisma and popularity probably created jealousies amongst the other (colourless and tie-wearing) politicians.

At the heart of the matter is how Varoufakis presented his demands. Thinking of himself as a representative of the Greek people, he made his wishes public, and when in the Eurogroup, he maintained the same stance -- changes in views could not be informally agreed around a table but had to be taken back to Athens and argued for, in cabinet and with the Syriza party.



'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jul 12th, 2015 at 11:55:32 AM EST
Ministers attending the Eurogroup are transformed from politicians representing interests into experts seeking solutions to common problems.
Varoufakis just disagreed that the Eurogroup was solving the right problem.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 12th, 2015 at 12:09:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's becoming increasingly clear the functioning of the Eurogroup is the problem. And Dijsselbloem has launched proposals to broaden and deepen its powers, proposals which run deeply against the consensus of his own party (which underlines that the leadership of PvdA is increasingly abandoning its official party lines).
by Bjinse on Sat Jul 25th, 2015 at 07:55:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Occasional Series