Deep in a vault in the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) lie #TheGreekFiles, a legal opinion about the ECB’s actions towards Greece in 2015 that could send shockwaves across Europe.
As a European taxpayer, you paid for these documents. But the ECB’s boss, ex-Goldman Sachs head Mario Draghi, says you can’t see them.
So former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and MEP Fabio de Masi, together with a broad alliance of politicians and academics (below), have announced they will file a mass freedom of information request to the ECB to uncover #TheGreekFiles once and for all.
If Mario says no, they’ll take the campaign to the next level, and consider all options – including legal action – to make this vital information public.
Support their request to release critical documents you paid for by signing this petition now!
Benoît Hamon, Katja Kipping and Gesine Schwan
This DiEM25 petition is supported by a coalition of politicians and academics, with divergent views on the future of the EU and the Eurozone. Here is the most recent list; check back for updates:
- Benoît Hamon, Socialist Party candidate for the French Presidency, 2017
- Katja Kipping, Co-Chairperson, Die Linke, Germany
- Gesine Schwan, President, Viadrina European University and twice the SPD’s candidate for the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Germany
- Yanis Varoufakis, co-founder of DiEM25 and former Greek finance minister
with the support of university professors including:
- Klaus Dörre, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena
- James K. Galbraith, University of Texas at Austin
- Rudolf Hickel, Bremen Universität
- Gustav A. Horn, Hans-Böckler-Stiftung
- Aidan Regan, University College Dublin
- Jeffrey Sachs, University of Columbia
- Joseph Vogl, Humboldt Universität
- Arthur Gibson, University of Cambridge
In June 2015, the newly-elected Greek government was locked in tense negotiations with its creditors (the ‘Troika’ – the ECB, EC and 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, ultimately driving 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.
In July 2015, the German MEP Fabio De Masi asked Mario Draghi to release the legal opinion. Mario refused, hiding behind ‘attorney-client privilege’. Clearly #TheGreekFiles contain something he doesn’t want you to see.
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.
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 down 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.
We must all throw light on the lawfulness and propriety of ECB decision-making – beginning with this case – to give European democracy a chance, as well as to make the ECB less vulnerable to power politics.