Members of the European Parliament's Committee on Economic Affairs (ECON) visited Portugal on 6-7 January to inquire about the Troika's work in the bailout countries. They urged the Troika members (European Commission, ECB and IMF) to accept the European Parliament's oversight, since the diverging views among the international creditors show the need to turn the "internal debate" about the priorities for the rescued countries into a transparent exercise.
The delegation, led by the rapporteurs Othmar Karas (EPP, Austria) and Liem Hoang-Ngoc (S&D, France), found that the public speeches delivered by the Troika's leaders were not in line with the instructions given by its team of specialists. "Portugal was told about flexibility that never occurred. The Portuguese people have endured significant sacrifices and they deserve to be more clearly informed," Karas stressed.
In Lisbon, MEPs met with government representatives, including Deputy Prime Minister Paulo Portas and Finance Minister Maria Luis Albuquerque; the Governor of the Bank of Portugal, Carlos da Silva Costa, and opposition leaders and social partners. The delegation also met with former Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates and his head of cabinet, Silva Pereira, who led the negotiations with the international creditors in 2011.
As part of the same inquiry, the legislators plan to visit Cyprus, on 10-11 January, where they will meet with government and central bank officials, as well as former shareholders and clients of Laiki Bank, which had to be dismantled as a result of the crisis.
The EP aims to increase the transparency of - and its democratic control over - the Troika's work. The Troika is a key instrument of the EU in its efforts to overhaul the economies of the rescued countries, and yet it still works behind closed doors. The MEPs also want to know more about the Troika's internal decision making structures and procedures. For this reason, they sent a questionnaire to 17 top Troika officials and to those in charge of the programmes in the countries concerned. Only the Greek, Portuguese and Cypriot authorities and the European Commission have responded to date, according to Parliament sources.
The conclusions of the fact finding missions, together with the replies to the questionnaire, will feed into a report to be submitted to a vote in the ECON committee on 17 February...