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Transparency Int slams Eurogroup practices, “small states not protected”

There is “no real progress” in attempts to make the Eurogroup more transparent, a member of the Dutch parliament told EUobserver. “We are not making any headway with this file,” said Renske Leijten, MP for the socialist party.

Almost a year ago, Leijten travelled to Brussels with two fellow Dutch MPs, to present Eurogroup president Mario Centeno with a list of recommendations to improve transparency.

They asked, on behalf of parliaments in 20 EU member states, that the Eurogroup would start to apply the EU’s transparency regulation, which gives citizens the right to request documents.

Centeno promised to take their request seriously.

The Eurogroup is a powerful but technically informal body which consists of the eurozone’s 19 finance ministers, their deputies, and a handful of EU officials like the European Commission members responsible for the euro and economic and financial affairs.

Transparency International report

This week, pressure group Transparency International published a critical report about the Eurogroup, arguing that it had been “designed to maximise confidentiality”.

“Interview partners invariably made this point: the smaller number of participants in the Eurogroup fosters an atmosphere of collegiality and trust that is conducive to open discussions and consensus building,” the report said.

“This justification runs into problems because of the greatly-expanded scope and reach of Eurogroup decisions,” it added.

While the Eurogroup started out as an informal forum without much impact, it has become a key forum for decision-making since the euro crisis a decade ago.

Transparency International argued that the lack of transparency has exacerbated “power asymmetries” and allowed bigger member states to “twist arms” to make smaller states give up vetoes.

“While in theory the consensus requirement should protect the interests of smaller member states, in practice those states have a very limited ability to hold up proceedings or threaten a veto, especially if they are ‘debtor’ states,” the report said.

Since MP Leijten handed the recommendations over to Centeno in February 2018, not much has changed.

The last major change in Eurogroup transparency was in 2016, when it started publishing agendas ahead of meetings and summary letters.

Since June 2018, the Eurogroup is also publishing lists of attendees of Eurogroup meetings. (full article: eurobserver)

PS the Eurogroup is a “forum“? I thought the whole time it was a non-existing institution other EU institutions allow to take crucial decisions for the lives of millions of people. Was I wrong?

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