On Saturday, June 27, the Eurogroup’s finance ministers met twice.
Once with all 19 members in attendance, and once with just 18 members. Missing was Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.
But since this is 2015 and we are getting the fast and furious updates on Greece’s bailout negotiations on Twitter and blogs, Varoufakis took to his personal blog to detail not only what he told the Eurogroup on Saturday, but give colour on just how ridiculous he thinks his exclusion from a second meeting is.
In his post published Sunday, Varoufakis wrote (emphasis added):
The Eurogroup Meeting of 27th June 2015 will not go down as a proud moment in Europe’s history. Ministers turned down the Greek government’s request that the Greek people should be granted a single week during which to deliver a Yes or No answer to the institutions’ proposals — proposals crucial for Greece’s future in the Eurozone. The very idea that a government would consult its people on a problematic proposal put to it by the institutions was treated with incomprehension and often with disdain bordering on contempt. I was even asked: “How do you expect common people to understand such complex issues?” Indeed, democracy did not have a good day in yesterday’s Eurogroup meeting! But nor did European institutions. After our request was rejected, the Eurogroup President broke with the convention of unanimity (issuing a statement without my consent) and even took the dubious decision to convene a follow up meeting without the Greek minister, ostensibly to discuss the “next steps.”
Can democracy and a monetary union coexist? Or must one give way? This is the pivotal question that the Eurogroup has decided to answer by placing democracy in the too-hard basket. So far, one hopes.
Varoufakis also includes the complete text of the speech he gave to the Eurogroup, outlining why Greece rejected the latest proposal from its creditors and why Greece felt compelled to call a referendum to vote on the matter.
After the Eurogroup meeting broke and Varoufakis learned they would reconvene without him, he asked for clarification on the legal basis for this and was told:
“‘The Eurogroup is an informal group. Thus it is not bound by Treaties or written regulations. While unanimity is conventionally adhered to, the Eurogroup President is not bound to explicit rules.’ I let the reader comment on this remarkable statement.”
The significance here is that the Eurogroup, and really the euro project more broadly, is seen as a democratic institution.
In Varoufakis’ estimation, then, the group then going ahead an deliberating on the future of Greece without Greece sitting at the table is a fundamental break with what Varoufakis sees as the organisation’s purpose.