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European Parliament probes international troika over eurozone bailouts

European Parliament probes international troika over eurozone bailouts
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Notorious for closely scrutinising the finances of bailed-out countries in the eurozone, the troika of international lenders is itself under scrutiny in the European Parliament.

Its economic and monetary affairs committee heard from the former head of the European Central Bank who defended the decisions taken.

“If we hadn’t taken these measures, we would not be speaking so calmly today of the difficulties in getting the eurozone back on its feet – we’d be in a totally different situation,” the ECB’s former President Jean-Claude Trichet told the committee.

The day before, European Commissioner Olli Rehn was quizzed about accountability and how decisions were taken, particularly relating to Greece.

In Portugal the troika has come in for scathing criticism, accused of being inflexible.

“We want to know why, in the Portuguese and Greek cases, at a moment of such crisis, Europe insisted on carrying out privatisation when countries were not in a good condition to deal with them,” said Portuguese centre-left MEP Elisa Ferreira.

In response to accusations that the troika has exceeded its mandate and lacks democratic legitimacy, some MEPs want roles to be clarified.

They argue for a permanent structure to be established under the authority of the European Commission.

“If, in carrying out its mission, it (the European Commission) needs technical assistance from the European Central Bank, the IMF or whoever else, it’s free to take on the consultancy services of those institutions. But the Commission alone should bear the political responsibility for actions set out in support plans,” said Belgian green MEP Philippe Lamberts.

As well as the parliamentary hearings, MEPs are also visiting countries who have had to implement tough measures in return for bailouts.

A final report is due to be put to the vote in a plenary session of the European Parliament in April.

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