The Financial Times has a swell story today, demonstrating how Greece, already a ward of Brussels, is not likely to be trusted with even its own pocket-money, far less be allowed out without a chaperone. She is imprisoned:
European creditor countries are demanding 38 specific changes in Greek tax, spending and wage policies by the end of this month and have laid out extra reforms that amount to micromanaging the country’s government for two years, according to documents obtained by the Financial Times.
The reforms, spelt out in three separate memoranda of a combined 90 pages, are the price that Greece has agreed to pay to obtain a €130bn second bail-out and avoid a sovereign default that the government feared would throw Greek society into turmoil.
They range from the sweeping – overhauling judicial procedures, centralising health insurance, completing an accurate land registry – to the mundane – buying a new computer system for tax collectors, changing the way drugs are prescribed and setting minimum crude oil stocks.
“The programme is much, much more ambitious than economic reform,” said Mujtaba Rahman, Europe analyst at the Eurasia Group risk consultancy. “This is state building, as typically understood in traditional low-income contexts.”
I am sure many of these reforms are useful and some of them may even be necessary. Nevertheless, it is not easy to imagine how this ends well.
Greece may be an exceptional case but it won’t be the last. As officials and ministers become accustomed to micro-managing one country they will find it easier to contemplate micro-managing another. What was once bold will become commonplace. I fancy this will be the case even if the Greek experiment fails. This window, once opened, will not be closed and this crisis is too important to be wasted. Boon times for centralisers and all that.Tags: Brussels, Europe, Eurozone, Greece