Ex-EU chief Barroso says Greek gov’t made grave errors, troika was flawed

Former European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso believes the Greek government has undermined its effort to secure a better deal from lenders by making «completely unrealistic demands,» such as debt forgiveness, and making mistakes that were due to a “lack of experience or ideological reasons.”

“The government could have used the direct legitimacy it had from its election win to negotiate some of the bailout conditions,” Barroso told Portuguese radio station TSF. “That would have been fine. There would have been some understanding. But instead they even started to attack, sometimes insult, other countries” like Germany, Portugal and Spain, added the former Portuguese prime minister.

Barroso also identified Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis’s media exposure as a factor that contributed to the deterioration in relations between Greece and its creditors.

“While the finance minister is asking money from other countries, he gives glamorous interviews to fashion magazines,” said Barroso in reference to a photo shoot in Paris Match magazine with Varoufakis and his wife, artist Danae Stratou. “This had a very negative impact. If you think that middle class people in Germany, with their own difficulties, see a finance minister in this circumstances… it is not very encouraging.”

Barroso suggested that the best way out of the current impasse between Greece and its lenders is if there is “more responsibility from the Greek government and more solidarity from European partners.”

The ex-Commission chief also admitted that the relationship between the troika and the bailout countries has been flawed.

“The Troika missions that visit the countries are members of staff, technocrats,” he said in the interview broadcast on Monday evening. “This created a problem of institutional respect because the government receiving them, sometimes even prime ministers, were seen by their public talking with troika staff members, who are undoubtedly very competent people but do not have the same institutional respect as a democratically elected representative.”

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.