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Petition demanding €8bn ECB profits return to Greece handed to Eurogroup

In a meeting with Eurogroup spokesperson Luis Rego, a group of campaigners including Positive Money Europe handed a petition to euro zone finance ministers demanding that Greece gets back the profits made off of its debt.

Luis Rego promised the campaigners to bring the issue to the attention of EG chief Mario Centento and committed to provide more transparency on the profit made under SMP and ANFA program, the campaigners told KTG.

The petition was organised by WeMove.EU and calls for Eurozone governments to return the interest it has accrued on Greek government bonds under the Securities Market Programme (SMP) launched by the European Central Bank in 2010.

According to research, the European Central Bank owes Greece 8 billion euros from the SMP and the Agreements on Net Financial Assets (ANFAs) between 2012 and 2016.

Reesearch by Positive Money Europe estimates that total profits will likely exceed €17.6bn between 2010 and 2022.

Following the meeting on Friday, Positive Money Europe’s Stanislas Jourdan said: « The profits of the SMP programme were a problematic legacy of a complex financial crisis to which the Eurozone institutions were unprepared for. In the midst of this chaotic situation, it is understandable that mistakes were made such as the mis-management of the SMP programme.”

It is clear however that bonds should have been restructured just like the ones held by the private sector were. “Sadly Greece is still today paying for this mistake. Every time Greece pays back the expensive SMP bonds owned by the ECB, it has to borrow more money from the ESM or financial markets, at additional cost for the Greek taxpayers. It is not too late to repair the mistakes.”

Although the Eurogroup agreed in June 2018 to return part of the profits to Greece through semi-annual payments until 2022, research found that €8 billion are still missing out from the deal.

During the meeting, Luis Rego did not deny campaigners’ claim that profits went missing from past and future refunding agreements. However he stressed that refunding agreements were always future-oriented, implying that the Eurogroup’s finance ministers were not willing to look back at the lost profits.

Campaigners argue that Greece, which has been crushed by years of austerity, should receive the interest on its government bonds, as was agreed in 2012, rather than creditor states such as France and Germany.

Campaigners demand that the Eurogroup should reconsider its June agreement in order to provide for a more comprehensive refunding scheme that account for all undue profits.

 

According to campaigners, the profits of the SMP programme are a problematic legacy of a complex financial crisis which the Eurozone institutions were unprepared for. In the midst of this chaotic situation, it is understandable that mistakes were made such as the mismanagement of the SMP programme. From hindsight, it is clear however that SMP bonds held by the ECB should have been restructured just like the ones held by the private sector were.

Campaingers said that Wemove.EU, Eurodad and Positive Money Europe will closely monitor the Eurogroup’s next meeting on November 5th.

Positive Money Europe is a not-for-profit research and campaigning organisation aiming to make the money system support a fair, democratic and sustainable economy. They scrutinize the European Central Bank and develop policy proposals to reform the Eurozone monetary system.

Positive Money Europe is a member of the Eurozone Watchdog Network launched by Transparency International EU which seeks to make the governance of the Eurozone more transparent and democratic.

Citizens can still sign the petition to help us ensure the issue makes it back to the table.

 

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