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16th Feb 2019

EU parliament claims role in Greek bailout supervision

  • Schulz (r) will discuss the MEPs' role with Juncker (l) next week (Photo: European Parliament)

The European Parliament and the European Commission are set to discuss the parliament's role in the supervision of the Greek bailout programme after parliament leaders gave the green light to proceed.

Parliament president Martin Schulz received a mandate on Thursday (3 September) from the leaders of the assembly's political groups to "explore" with commission president Jean-Claude Juncker "the possibilities" of such an involvement.

An agreement could be announced as soon as next week, when Juncker participates in the parliament's plenary session in Strasbourg.

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Juncker will attend the conference of presidents, the group that gave Schulz the green light.

The parliament's move comes in response to a request sent by former Greek PM Alexis Tsipras on 20 August.

Tsipras wrote to Schulz, asking for "the direct and full involvement of the European Parliament in the regular review process regarding the implementation of the loan agreement" between Greece and its creditors - the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"I deem it politically imperative that the sole European institution with a direct popular mandate acts as the ultimate guarantor of democratic accountability”, Tsipras wrote.

The basis of the discussion between the two presidents will be the so-called two-pack regulation, which sets up a monitoring and surveillance mechanism of eurozone countries.

In his letter, Tsipras mentioned article 3 of the two-pack, which says parliament should be kept informed and provides possibilities for exchanges of views with officials from the commission or the member state under surveillance.

"There was large agreement between political groups”, a parliament source told EUobserver.

"It is not a surprise”, Schulz said, "because the troika report at the end of the parliament's last mandate already asked for a permanent structure of accompaniment on a parliamentarian level [of] all the actions of the institutions in the framework of the programme”.

The troika is the old name for the EU-IMF monitoring missions.

Binding agreement

The discussion between Schulz and Juncker could lead to a mechanism that gives the parliament more than the right to be simply informed about implementation of the bailout programme, but less than a deciding role in the monitoring of it.

"The commission, in liaison with the ECB and, wherever possible, together with the IMF, shall be entrusted with monitoring compliance with the conditionality attached to the financial assistance facility”, the commission told EUobserver in an email, suggesting MEPs will not have the same powers.

"What we want is a binding solution in the form of an agreement between the two institutions. A non-binding understanding is not what we want to get”, Schulz said.

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