Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, endorsed a Freedom of Information request to access a legal opinion commissioned by the European Central Bank (ECB) on its decision to cut off liquidity supply to Greek banks.
Speaking from Brussels today, where she attended a press conference held in the European Parliament with Yanis Varoufakis, former finance minister of Greece and initiator of the Freedom of Information request, Ms. Childers said:
“Citizens have a right to know the legal reasoning which led the ECB to shut off the money taps to Greek banks in June 2015, as it had threatened to do in Ireland in 2010, to force the hands of governments into accepting Eurogroup demands under the Troika’s supervision.
“The ECB may be a zealous guardian of its independence from politics but its actions in response to the financial crisis and the public debt crisis it triggered in Europe were nothing if not political and aligned with an austeritarian Eurogroup of finance ministers.
“The ECB wields great power, and with it come great responsibilities to act in a transparent and consistent manner.
“The central bank of the Eurozone may have been thrust into an unprecedented scenario, working with an incomplete economic and monetary union, and has done a lot to hold the Euro together, sometimes against the national narrow-mindedness of powerful finance ministers.
“But this does not exonerate it from arbitrary manoeuvrings which benefit conservative politics and the financial sector against those who take different views, and in which our government was disgracefully complicit for party-political motives.
“It undermines the ECB’s claims to independence and has seriously dented its legitimacy and that of other EU institutions in citizens’ eyes.
“Mr. Draghi obviously felt he was slipping on thin legal ice when he decided to asphyxiate the Greek banking sector, so he commissioned a legal opinion from a private firm.
“Now he refuses to disclose it by invoking client-attorney privilege. Mr. Draghi may claim to be politically independent, but this refusal comes across as a claim to be unaccountable.
“The publication of this opinion is of interest to Greeks, the Irish and all EU citizens alike.
“It is all the more important in that our own government has been banking on the reflation of asset bubbles, at great cost to our citizens in terms of access to housing, so repetitions of these mistakes are not out of the question.
“This is why I encourage all Irish citizens to do as I did and add their voice to that of Yanis Varoufakis and other eminent economists such as Jeffrey Sachs or John Kenneth Galbraith, by signing the petition available on DiEM25.org.
“Almost 25.000 citizens have done it already. The more of us sign it, the louder the voice heard in Frankfurt will be.”