Transparency International slams Eurogroup’s secrecy

The informal group of eurozone finance ministers, the Eurogroup, falls short in meeting basic standards of accountability and oversight, the advocacy group Transparency International said on Tuesday.

In 1998, eurozone members set up the forum as a loose talking shop for their finance ministers in the run-up to the single currency.

However, amid the financial turmoil that started a decade later, the group took on a powerful role in policymaking, especially in the bailout talks with the troubled economies of the periphery.

“In spite of this outsized influence, the Eurogroup still is not required to follow the basic transparency guidelines of other EU institutions, and it is not governed by any EU treaties,” it said in a report.

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It noted that while the Eurogroup’s president appears before the European Parliament to answer questions, “This voluntary arrangement does not constitute an effective accountability mechanism.”

“Thus, even while operating as a de-facto ‘government economique,’ the Eurogroup as such is not accountable to anyone.

“Furthermore, only larger member states have the resources to analyse policy carefully, while smaller countries are more susceptible to market pressures.

“To remedy these concerns, the Eurogroup should formalise and publish its deliberations while granting a greater role to the parliament in its economic health checks of member state,” Transparency International recommended.

It said other proposals include requiring the Eurogroup president to brief the parliament regularly, as well as a document register for all Eurogroup papers.

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The report suggested that in addition, the president’s role should be formalised into a full-time post without conflicts of interest. (dpa/NAN)

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