Monday 25 September 2017

Commission blasts Legrain 'bully' claims

Former economic advisor to the European Commission Philippe Legrain
Former economic advisor to the European Commission Philippe Legrain
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

The European Commission has sought to distance itself from damning comments published in the Irish Independent by a prominent former advisor over the EU's influence in Ireland's bank bailout, arguing that the decision to issue a bank guarantee was Ireland's alone.

The Commission has responded to an interview with the Irish Independent released on Wednesday, in which former economic advisor to the Commission Phillippe Legrain gave a damning condemnation of what he said amounted to "bullying" by the EU

"It was outrageous of Germany, the European Commission and above all the ECB to threaten to force Ireland out of the euro if it did not follow through with that foolish guarantee, lumbering Irish people, who have already suffered enough from collapsing house prices and a sinking economy, with a €64bn bill to bail out bust banks, €14,000 for every man, woman and child," Mr Legrain said, prompting heated debate on social media forums.

The London School of Economics academic, who says he was personally hired by Commission President Manuel Barroso, left his economic advisory role at the Commission earlier this year to release a book condemning the EU's handling of the financial collapse.

The Commission has rejected his assertions. "These remarks reflect the views of a former temporary staff member who sadly chose not to contribute any useful or practicable input to the crisis response. The economic strategy espoused by the Commission is not aligned with the view of any one member state but reflects an approach also supported by the Ecofin Council, ECB and IMF and which is now delivering a strengthening economic recovery in Europe," said a spokesperson.

"Concerning the Irish bank guarantee announced in October 2008, it is well known that this was a sovereign decision of the Irish government, of which the Commission was informed only subsequently," the person added.

"The Commission stood by Ireland throughout the crisis."

Irish Independent

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