Tuesday , November 29 2022
Home / News / Economy / Is EC Juncker undermining the negotiations by misleading Greece with own proposals that IMF & ECB reject?

Is EC Juncker undermining the negotiations by misleading Greece with own proposals that IMF & ECB reject?

It was and still is a heavy accusation. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker accused Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of having twisted his words regarding proposals to solve the debt crisis and that he was “not telling the truth to the Greek people”. Juncker indirectly but clearly implied that the Greek PM was a “liar”.

“I’m blaming the Greeks to tell things to the Greek public that are not consistent with what I told the Greek prime minister,” a furious Juncker said during a press conference in Brussels on Tuesday afternoon. He was referring to his meeting with Tsipras a week ago, during which he (Juncker) had handed him (Tsipras) a 5-page document with the creditors’ proposals for a Greek deal.

“I’m not in favour, and the prime minister knows that, I’’m not in favor of increasing VAT on medicaments and electricity,” Juncker stressed obviously angered and apparently deeply hurt and offended by something that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had said earlier.

Speaking to the parliamentary group of SYRIZA, Tsipras had accused “the Institutions” – that is Greece’s creditors IMF, EU and ECB -,  for demanding further “pension cuts and V.A.T. hikes.”

Excerpt from Tsipras’ speech

“Instead of an answer [to the Greek 47-page proposal] on the part of the Institutions to this proposal we received – shortly after – a brief text of five pages that actually ignored the negotiations and repeated the proposals for pension cuts, dramatic increases in VAT, even in electricity that affects the average household, proposals for scrapping the EKAS [poverty allowance] and may more irrational, unrealistic and unacceptable proposals.

[…]
And all this despite the fact that everyone knows that pensions in our country have undergone dramatic cuts in the last five year and that 2/3 of pensioners in Greece receive pensions below or near the threshold of relative poverty.

[…]

While they seem to ignore the fact that the VAT increase in energy at even ten points, is actually a  cut to the real wages.  They suggest horizontal cuts in real income. And when we say horizontal this concerns those who have and those who have not,   because electricity is a commodity essential to life.” (via Prime Ministry Greece official website)

At no point of his 20-minute long speech Tsipras makes a reference to Jean-Claude Juncker, but he refers to “The Institutions” and at a point to “the EU” as an institution of the European Union. But Juncker took Tsipras’ criticism personally, so to say perceived it as an arrow right in the middle of his heart full of honest feelings towards the Greek people, allegedly confusing private thoughts with official duties, role and position.

“I don’t care about the Greek government, I do care about the Greek people, mainly the poorest part,” Juncker stressed – for one more time in recent weeks, if I am not wrong.

He underlined that VAT hikes in medicines and electricity “would be a major mistake if Greece would be obliged to do that,” and added that he had offered other measures for fiscal improvements like “moderate cuts in military expenditure.”

What is odd is that also the 47-page Greek reforms plan contained “military expenditure cuts” but the Greek government had said that “this was rejected by the Institutions.”

Nevertheless, Juncker was very angry and revealed that it was him who stopped the negotiations over the weekend.

“I decided to stop the negotiations because the negotiations, given the Greek position, were leading nowhere,” Juncker said and added that:

“I think the debate in Greece and outside Greece would be easier, if the Greek government would tell exactly what the commission, being one of the three institutions in charge of all this, are really proposing.”

Video: Juncker presser

An hour after the EC President’s outburst, Greek government spokesman Gabriil Sakellaridis reminded Juncker of the 5-page document he had handed out to Tsipras.

“The text that was officially submitted to the Greek prime minister by the three institutions [though Juncker] last Wednesday contained  10% VAT hikes in electricity, 4.5% VAT hikes in medicines, elimination of solidarity grant (EKAS), increasing revenues from VAT by €1.8 billion, reduce pension expenditure by €1.8 billion, ” Sakellaridis said and added:

“We never said that these were the views of the Commission and the personal views of Mr Juncker, but that they were an proposal designed by the three institutions. It is positive that Mr Juncker makes a differentiation to this direction.”

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis added the icing on the top.

The European Commission President either did not read the paper he gave to Alexis Tsipras or he read it and forgot it,” Varoufakis pointed out speaking to state broadcaster ERT.

At the end of the day, the war of words was in full swing.

Wednesday morning, Greek government sources told private Skai TV and ANT1 TV that

“On Sunday, the European Commission had given a paper with proposals containing more flexible measures to the Greek delegation [Tsakalotos, Pappas, Dragasakis] but without knowledge of the other two Institutions.”

 

According to Greek daily Efimerida Ton Syntakton, the proposals paper handed out by the European Commission to the Greek delegation on Sunday, sets stringent targets in order to reach an agreement, but it leaves it up to the Greek side how to achieve the fiscal targets.

The text of Mr. Juncker that was given to the Greek delegation without the knowledge of the ECB and the IMF, notes that in order to reach the primary surpluses Athens needs to collect taxes worth 1% of GDP from VAT and 1% of the GDP from the social security. However it leaved it up to the Greek government how to move in order to achieve these targets. In other words, Juncker’s paper did not have cuts in poverty allowance (EKAS) and pensions and no specific increases in VAT rates.”

If Juncker had given indeed such a paper, no wonder he got angry on Tuesday, yet without a real reason because he was not explicitly mentioned by Tsipras. But…

It is not the first time, Juncker accuses the Greek government of lying. He did so as well at the G7 Summit in Bavaria, beginning of the month. He accused Alexis Tsipras of undermining the negotiations over new terms for a bailout and of effectively lying to the Greek parliament.

And it is not the first time, that Juncker makes his own proposals to the Greek side. He had handed a paper with proposals beginning of February. Too bad, that the other two Institutions, Germany included, did not agree with Juncker’s private mission of good will.

So what’s the point of submitting proposals that the other two creditors’ Institutions reject? What’s the point of

Jean-Claude Juncker has to clearly separate his private ambitions as a honest broker and as representative of Europe’s top institution. He has to clarify for himself the discrepancy “private views vs official positions”. He should also double check the information he receives by his staff and remove manipulation strategists. In addition, he should be transparent and stop working behind the other creditors’ back thus misleading the Greek side.

Oh, and he has to take some classes on Anger Management.

At any case, Jean-Claude Juncker has to look deep into these problems and solve them as soon as possible. He is the President of the European Commission, after all.

I heard this morning, that the EC plans to issue a statement on the Juncker-Greek government issue. If he had told Tsipras he had other proposals and if he had handed out a separate paper on Sunday, he has to clearly admit it and make it public. Otherwise it is him who undermines the negotiations process.

Additional news sources:

Juncker quotes here, and here (video transcription)

Tsipras speech video

 

Check Also

Greece expands hydrocarbon surveys south of Crete

Greece expands its seismic surveys and the Navy issued a new Navtex to locate hydrocarbon …

20 comments

  1. Why aren’t those negotiations public at this critical time? Otherwise Germans and Greeks might end up blaming each other. This is not a little topic, this is a defining moment of European history.
    I demand an internet live-stream of all future negotiations! No more rumours, no more lies, no more excuses!

  2. Lets forget bout all the lists for a sec. Those are just proposals and counter proposals and well see what happens to those in next few month. In the end it is important what the government decides to actually implement/ what laws the parliamentary majority will vote for. Thats where the actual decision making power is after all.
    Id be very interested in learning what actual laws and directives the new coalition has implemented by now.
    Especially Im wondering about any changes too military structure and budget and what happened now to the lagarde list/ what changes were implemented in regads to fighting taxfraud from the rich?
    Somehow I always thought those were points everyone could agree on, but there is often times criticism that theres not enough happening on that front. So is at least part of that justified, or is it all just bad press?

    • Giaourti Giaourtaki

      As mention already a few times before further implementation of laws will lead to the cancellation of negotiations by the Troika-institutions!
      Tax frauds: Germany’s big help offered “500 German civil servants” Tsipras: “How about 5000?” No answer, only Lafontaine/Saarland said they could send 50.
      Varoufakis: “We only have 100 servants”, also most of the lists cases are too old so you’d better ask Samaras
      Military bullshit: Will Europe guarantee Greek borders? Will European media report Turkish overflights? No! Instead they make a big deal of Russia 400 times in 2014, while Turkish 81 times only in December get ignored.
      Will European media report about official Turkish bullshit about that 16 Greek islands belong to Turkey, some of it inhabited by 1500 people, some of it around Crete? No, aso. Instead the German media hunt against Greece: “Kammenos provoking Turkey”

      • Regarding tax frauds: Do you have a source for this? That would be a scandal and finish Schäuble, who reiterates having offered help.
        Military: Of course NATO will guarantee the borders – this is the only reason it is still in existence. Turkey might get a different government anyway and Northern Cyprus wants to become part of Cyprus. You should work on good relations with Turkey (like France and Germany). The European Parliament stated the Armenian genocide, so I see no reason why they wouldn’t state about these islands.
        You should make the NATO pay for your military duties towards them. If Germany manages to pay just 1.3% (instead of 2% demanded by NATO), so should you. If the US wants you to have a strong presence there, they should pay you.

      • “As mention already a few times before further implementation of laws will lead to the cancellation of negotiations by the Troika-institutions”
        Implementation of laws that further strain the budget, but surely not all other laws?
        I mean there is a lot you can do without spending money(like improving bureacracy, streamlining regulations etc), and also there is a lot of stuff that just doesnt relate to the budget/economy at all(f.e. school curricula, legalization of soft drugs, gay rights ….)
        As for military, do you really feel that threatened? I have no idea how high you m. budget is, i just repeatedly heard that its rather large in comparison to gdp, and I spmehow expected that a leftist government would slash it in order to make better use of all that money.

        • Giaourti Giaourtaki

          Ask the Greek government about this, may be Varoufakis explains it on his blog as he explained it in interviews. So far I remember it’s exactly that as it’s not expensive to make laws against corruption aso but the troika-institutions say nope and that’s not surprising as the commission also blocks in EU-parliament questions regarding German corruption in Greece.
          What is MHP – Grey Wolves in the neighborhood and this nationalist pricks in Albania and FYROM? What if Greece quits NATO, what if the Greek army is needed against a possible Coup from X.A./parts of police/special forces?
          I don’t see it a leftist problem if an antifascist government got strong forces also but I guess it will get slashed further just read in the “preliminary findings” article

        • Greek parliament is forbidden by EU, ECB & IMF from enacting any 1aws during negotiations, ca11ed “uni1atera1” actions.

          Greece is the only EU country that meets NATO obligation of 2% expenditure on military.
          Yes Greece fee1s threatened. Think of the fuss UK made when a Russian fighter few past in international space, and compare to Turkish navy entering Greek waters month1y and fighter p1anes in our air space a1most daily.

          On the other hand buying unneeded German military hardware – over objections of Greek army – was a requirement written into first Memorandum by Germany.

          Sorry about the “1”s my keyboard is broken!

          • keeptalkinggreece

            I was wondering about the 11

          • “On the other hand buying unneeded German military hardware – over objections of Greek army – was a requirement written into first Memorandum by Germany.”
            If that was the case, it would be a scandal in Germany, too. I guess it was rather about “paying” than “buying”.
            Btw: In 1992-2010 Germany sold 2399 tanks to foreign armies – almost half of them to Greece (715) and Turkey (403)(source: http://sicherheitspolitik.bpb.de/konventionelle-waffen/hintergrundtexte-m5/deutsche-panzerlieferungen)- However, a tank sold for no reason is better than one sold for war.

          • Giaourti Giaourtaki

            Paying? Because of bribes over-priced shit – just to remind you who is not reliable in this shit, most German stuff comes 10-15 years too late or materializes to submarines that sail in the water like a drunken sailor if they sail at all; 256 million bribes for the drunken submarine.

  3. Juncker indirectly but clearly implied that the Greek PM was a “liar”.

    But, wasn’t it Juncker himself who stated

    When it becomes serious, you have to lie

    And not only that, wasn’t it Juncker who organised a meeting between European finance ministers to discuss whether Greece could remain in the Eurozone and then denied the meeting ever taking place? And wasn’t it Juncker who stated

    We decide on something, leave it lying around and wait and see what happens. If no one kicks up a fuss, because most people don’t understand what has been decided, we continue step by step until there is no turning back

    (or in other words: deceit is how we work)? Not to mention his most famous one on election results

    If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘on we go’, and if it’s a No we will say ‘we continue


    Tsipras should start singing

    Clowns to the left of me,
    Jokers to the right, and here I am, stuck in the middle…

  4. It was so simpler when Greece had to negotiate with the troika. There were just two sides and two positions. Now there are 3 institutions plus the Greek government; no wonder it is more difficult to keep track of various proposals 🙁

  5. The “Blame Game” continues ad infinitum, and the clock ticks on … http://www.nationaldebtclocks.org/debtclock/greece

  6. As I said here before, in some ways this JUnker is much more dangerous than Shauble. At least Shauble is clearly anti-Greek and you can see clearly what he wants.
    Junker is a deceiving creature, he is hipper-corrupt (check the Luxembourg tax evasion scheme for big corportation scandal) and pro Oligarchs, but he still makes some jokes and puts on a smile to deceive the naif.
    THis JUnker is one of Greece and all european peoples worst enemies.

  7. I don’t care about the Greek government, I do care about the Greek people, mainly the poorest part, Juncker stressed.

  8. Varoufakis was right in recording all the conversations he has. He just made it public at the wrong moment.