The Corner

An Agreement in Germany

As expected, Germany’s Bundestag has approved the latest final Greek bailout.

This detail (from Open Europe) may sound familiar to American readers:

While approving the deal, many MPs were unhappy (Die Linke’s Kathrin Vogler specifically raised the issue) about having had only a few days to read through, digest and then analyse a document which came to no less than 726 pages, including hugely complicated issues such as explaining different options for bond swaps, how the swap would work and the impact on Greece’s debt sustainability (and therefore the risk to German taxpayers).

The agreement was only reached in the early hours of Tuesday morning, and the Bundestag’s budgetary committee only looked into the details on Friday, meaning ordinary MPs only got hold of the documentation over the weekend.

This begs the question, how in the world are MPs supposed to fulfil their role scrutinising the decisions reached by governments. The bailout took eight months to organise, now MPs were expected to approve it with a weekend’s notice (at least with respect to the details). Given the number of unanswered questions and heroic assumptions on which the agreement shakily rests, this is a pretty scary situation.

In fact, if this is the future of parliamentary/constitutional democracy in the eurozone, you’d forgive national parliaments for believing that is a price not worth paying for keeping the eurozone intact.

This is, of course (as Open Europe obviously understands) exactly what the future of parliamentary democracy in the euro zone will look like. In fact, a lot of its past looks like that too . . .


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