The General Court of the European Union was wrong says Advocate General: the ECB cannot deny Europeans access to the #GreekFiles
This is not a mere legal opinion about things that happened in 2015.
This goes well beyond Greece and the illicit closure of its banks to overturn the OXI referendum and, thus, to impose further inhuman austerity upon a small European country.
This is a decision that could end the use of the ECB as an instrument for imposing upon European peoples austerity for the many and socialism for the oligarchy-without-frontiers.
This decision is particularly important now: As the pandemic subsides, the ECB will be used, once again, as an instrument by which to force Parliaments to accept a shift of the crisis’ costs from the few to the many.
Today, a small step was made in the struggle for democratising Europe. A small step that, however, could make a large difference.
Read on and join DiEM25’s struggle to build a transnational political revolution that ends the weaponisation of the EU’s institutions against the interests of the majority of Europeans everywhere.
In 2017, together with Member of the European Parliament Fabio De Masi (now German MP), Yanis Varoufakis, on behalf of DiEM25, filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request before the ECB to make public the legal opinion it used to legitimise the imposition of capital controls on Greece in the summer of 2015. In addition, we launched our #GreeksFiles campaign to bring awareness to this case. As our request for transparency was ignored, in 2018 we took the ECB to court.
Yesterday, in a remarkable turn, Advocate General at the European Court of Justice, Priit Pikamäe, has stated that “the European Court of Justice has erred in judging the European Central Bank to deny access to the document in question.” Here you can read Pikamäe’s full legal opinion on the case.
A dubious central bank action that crushed the Greek economy and the country’s sovereignty
In June 2015, the newly-elected Greek government was locked in tense negotiations with its creditors– the ‘Troika’ composed by the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission (EC) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – doing what it had been voted in to do: renegotiate the country’s public debt, fiscal policy and reform agenda, and save its people from the hardship of the most crushing austerity programme in modern history.
The Troika knew they needed to make a drastic move to force the Greek government to capitulate. And that’s just what they did: through the ECB, they took action to force Greece’s banks to close, in order to force the Greek government – against its democratic mandate – to accept the country’s third ‘bailout’, together with new austerity measures and new reductions in national sovereignty.
But in their haste, their zeal to crush the Greek government’s resistance, the ECB feared their actions might be legally dubious. So, they commissioned a private law firm to examine whether those decisions were legal. The legal opinion of this law firm is contained in #TheGreekFiles.
When Mario Draghi was asked to release the legal opinion in question, he refused hiding behind ‘attorney-client privilege’. One of the foremost experts on European Law, Professor Andreas Fischer-Lescano, examined whether the ECB was right to refuse to release #TheGreekFiles. His detailed conclusion leaves no room for doubt: the ECB has no case for withholding from MEPs and the citizens of Europe the legal opinion the ECB secured (and paid for using your money) regarding its own conduct.
But in addition to the legal imperative: in today’s Eurozone, the power of the ECB to close a member-state’s banks violates every democratic principle. It also violates the ECB’s own aspiration, and charter obligation, to be independent and above political strategising.
The case is under consideration and the decision of the European Court is pending.
MeRA25 takes the Greek government to task
Upon learning about Pikamäe’s statement on the case, Secretary of MERA25 and DiEM25 co-founder, Yanis Varoufakis, filed the following questions to Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis:
- Do you agree that European citizens have the right to know whether it was legal for a private law firm (paid for with European citizen’s taxes) to advice on the suspension of liquidity in a EU member state’s banking system?
- Do you realise that the publication of this opinion strengthens the position of your government in view of the pressures that you will soon receive to accept a de facto 5th MoU?
- Will you support the legal case that German MP Fabio De Masi and myself have took to the European Court so that European citizens can see for themselves who planned the closure of our banks that resulted in capital controls during three months back in 2015?
The Advocate General at the European Court of Justice’s assessment of the case brings new hope not only as a potentially major step towards bringing transparency to the European Establishments, but also for Greece’s future. Crushed by inhumane and impossible to fulfil austerity measures, access to the #GreekFiles could result in a major victory for the country.
MeRA25’s MP Fotini Bakadima has stressed the importance of this turn in the case: “The Advocate General’s opinion issued yesterday is a significant step towards a more transparent future. All Europeans have the right to know the truth behind Mario Draghi’s decision to close the Greek banks in 2015. All citizens of the EU should and must know the motives behind any political and economic decisions of such magnitude.”
For a detailed account of the ECB’s actions in this case, and how it likely acted outside of its mandate, see our eight-page backgrounder.
DiEM25: Europe’s standard-bearer for Transparency
Since we began in 2016, DiEM25 has fought to make the case for transparency as the foundation of democracy. Our founding manifesto declares transparency to be the prerequisite to transform Europe and deliver our common project to the people. Our collaboration with WikiLeaks editor and DiEM25 Advisory Panel member Julian Assange is essential in our bid to support and defend the efforts of true champions of transparency.
On March 14, 2020, for the first time in history, Europeans were able to take a front seat in the meetings where their future is decided: DiEM25’s #EuroLeaks took Europeans inside the secretive, powerful Eurogroup that has no standing in law or treaty where far-reaching decisions about all our lives are made.
#Euroleaks is a wake-up call to all politicians in Europe to serve the citizens of Europe again and to make them aware of all important decisions that affect them.
Because only radical transparency will help us democratise Europe and legitimise its institutions.
Please support DiEM25’s campaigns and actions to #LetLightIn our institutions by making a donation today.
*DiEM25 receives no public funds or government grants of any kind – we depend exclusively on our members’ financial support.
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