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Friday, February 19, 2016

A Swan Song On The EU Task Force For Greece!

Few subjects have been as much the focus of this blog as the EU Task Force for Greece. From the time it was established in 2011, I was convinced that it could be the greatest thing for Greece since the invention of democracy. Today, I am still convinced that it could have been the greatest thing for Greece since the invention of democracy. Just consider this excerpt from the Executive Summary of the TFGR's First Quarterly Report, published in November 2011:

"The Task Force is a resource at the disposal of the Greek authorities as they seek to build a modern and prosperous Greece: a Greece characterized by economic opportunity and social equity, and served by an efficient administration with a strong public service ethos".

Read that excerpt again and ask yourself if you can think of a more beautiful description of what one would wish Greece that it can achieve.

My enthusiasm for the TFGR triggered a new New Year's Eve activity for me. On New Year's Eve 2012, I submitted a proposal to the TFGR which I titled "Make 2013 the year of the EU Task Force for Greece!" And on New Year's Eve 2013, I asked the question "Was 2013 the year of the EU Task for for Greece?"

As I followed developments with the TFGR, my initial enthusiasm waned. On New Year's Eve 2014, I resigned myself to the title "EU Task Force for Greece - Death in slow motion?" And by April of the following year I titled "Dismantle the EU Task Force for Greece?" By June 30, 2015, the TFGR's mandate expired and it was not renewed. Dismantling and institutional death had occurred.

As I implied above, the TFGR didn't come close to achieving the goals which dreamers like myself would have expected it to achieve. My own explanation for that was as follows: it had not been the Greek government which had passionately requested the EU to assist Greece on its path towards modernity and prosperity. Instead, the TFGR had been more of an invention of the EU so that they could monitor, if not influence developments in Greece and the Greek government passively accepted it. However, the Greek government never owned up to it. I do not recall a single Greek politician who ever spoke enthusiastically about the TFGR.

The European Court of Auditors has now put to rest any speculations as to why the TFGR did not achieve the objectives which had been set for it: it was the Task Force's fault!

"The urgency of responding to the crisis in Greece meant that the TFGR was set up very rapidly, without a full analysis of other options and without a dedicated budget. It had no single comprehensive strategic document for the delievery of Technical Assistance or for deciding between competing priorities, despite the TFGR's mandate to identify and coordinate the Technical Assistance. In the absence of such a document, the TFGR worked with the Greek authorities 'on demand' and based on the program's conditionality".

Well, here you have it. The EU is a bunch of amateurs. They can't even put together a Task Force professionally. The Task Force for Greece was not even sufficiently competent to produce one single strategic document. Poor Greeks that they had to suffer such fools.

Help is under way, though. The French Republic will pick up the broken pieces which the TFGR left behind and the Grande Nation will now show the world how one brings a public administration into shape. An agreement for Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS) was entered by France and Greece. To lend credibility to the project, French President Francois Holande flew to Athens to personally sign the document with PM Alexis Tsipras. Presumably, this means that both leaders are committed to this project and that the will personally make sure that the project succeeds.

The TFGR is dead. Long live the SRSS!

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