Yanis Varoufakis achieved very little during the short time he held public office. Therefore, it seems bizarre that he should come to Belfast to outline why Brexit will be bad for Northern Ireland or Ireland.
Varoufakis’ attempts to negotiate more favourable terms for Greece’s monstrous debt, fell on deaf ears, in the few short months he was Greece’s Finance Minister. He argued, and there was merit in his argument, that the Troika (the IMF, ECB and EU Commission), was heaping debt on Greek and European taxpayers (rather than on the banks themselves). In short, the Greek bailout was all about protecting banks and shafting the citizens of Europe.
Varoufakis argued that the people of Greece should reject the bailout terms mandated by the Troika (and especially by the ECB and EU Commission). In July 2015, the Greek people voted ‘No’ to the bailout – with Varoufakis arguing for a ‘No’ vote. Indeed, he threatened to resign if the Greek people voted in favour of the bailout. They didn’t. But he resigned anyway.
It is perplexing why Varoufakis seems to think that the EU has any merit given his experiences with the Greek bailout. His own experience was of an ECB and an EU Commission that represented only the interests of the European establishment and the systemically damaged European banking system. He failed to face them down. His own Party, Syriza, failed to face them down.
Instead Greece, like Ireland, capitulated to the terms mandated by the Troika – with the people paying the price while the failed banks survive. Indeed some 70% of Greek government debt was held by foreign banks – with German, Italian and French banks likely to have suffered most if Varoufakis got his way. Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, was formerly the Governor of the Bank of Italy, Italy’s central bank. His full time job these days is overseeing the bailout of failing European banks and central banks.
Varoufakis’ own experience negotiating with the EU was that it refused to budge and refused to accept the will of the people. His plan for the renegotiation of Greek debt was welcomed by the left and the free market right alike (like the Adam Smith Institute in London). It was also mandated by the people of Greece in a referendum. But despite all of this, it was rejected and the ECB bulldozed its way over democracy.
Varoufakis’ support for reform of the EU has as little hope of success as his Greek debt plan. His support for Remain in the UK referendum made no sense given his experience negotiating with an EU that is beyond reform.