Finance Ministry’s Sailas criticises "naivety" of euro policy
“Greece and Italy should not have been let into the euro, Finland was right to join”
Raimo Sailas, the highest-ranking civil servant at the Ministry of Finance, has sharply criticised the European Union, the decisions made in the wake of the euro crisis, and the common currency itself in a column in the magazine Kanava.
According to Sailas, Finland was "naive to a certain extent - downright childishly credulous" when it joined in the euro project.
One of the things that he means in this is that Finland took seriously the budget discipline called for by the stability and growth pact.
The pact includes provisions specifically forbidding the use of other member states’ money to bail out a member that has found itself in difficulties through its own actions.
Sailas also says that it was a mistake to take Italy and Greece into the eurozone.
"The other countries did not have the heart to leave a founding member of the Coal and Steel Union [Italy] outside the group, even though Germany considered it. Allowing Greece to come in on the basis of deliberately misleading numbers was a bad blunder, for which the Commission that was in power at the time bears the main responsibility."
Sailas nevertheless feels that Finland did the right thing when it joined the common currency. He admits all the same that he has been disappointed, sometimes even to the point of despair, when looking at how the euro crisis is being handled.
He notes that the eurozone, which comprises 17 countries, has drifted in the direction of being an income transfer union with shared economic responsibility.
In the view of Sailas, it would be fruitless to dispute over whether or not this constitutes a development toward a federation.
Sailas says that officials in Finland have not admitted that there are choices ahead that might be "as important for the sovereignty of an independent Finland" as the decisions made in connection with the Winter and Continuation Wars of the 1940s.
Sailas also does not understand why there is rejoicing in Finland over "perversely low interest rates".
He notes that low interest rates are primarily an indication of the depth of the economic problems.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Estimate: Greek euro-exodus would cost Finland EUR 5.4 billion (1.8.2012)
Low interest rate level keeps consumer demand from falling (7.8.2012)
British study suggests keeping eurozone intact is in Finland’s interests (6.8.2012)