SDP parliamentary group chairman rejects Commissioner Rehn’s criticism
Backman says Commissioner should not interfere in member states’ affairs
Jouni Backman, the chairman of the Social Democratic Party’s parliamentary group, has criticised Olli Rehn, the European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs for interfering in Finland’s internal affairs.
Rehn said in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat on Thursday that the Finnish government should have kept him informed about its negotiations with Greece on terms for collateral for Finnish participation in the Greek financial bailout.
Backman said that it is unusual for a Commissioner to criticise ministers of member states in such a way. “It is not the task of the Commission”, he says.
Minister of Finance Jutta Urpilainen (SDP) did not want to comment on Rehn’s criticism on Thursday. Members of Urpilainen’s staff said that communication among the different countries is most important in the collateral issue, although it is also good to keep the Commission informed about the negotiations.
According to Martti Hetemäki, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Finance, information about the agreement between Finland and Greece had been passed on to the Commission to civil servants responsible for the matter.
Backman feels that if the right target of criticism would have been Rehn’s own civil servants – “if the question is only about the passing of information”.
Backman reiterated that he does not feel that the fact that Rehn’s political background in Finland is with the opposition Centre Party has any bearing on the matter. “I see no party political linkage with this, knowing Olli Rehn as I do.”
The Finnish demand for collateral as a condition of Finland’s participation in the bailout is based on a joint policy line ironed out by the Social Democrats and the National Coalition Party concerning the euro crisis.
Backman sees no reason to drop the demand, even though it has caused problems in agreeing on the whole bailout package.
However, he does appeal for moderation in the debate. “This applies to all – also to our own”. He says.
Finance Minister Urpilainen came under more criticism on Thursday from Kimmo Sasi (Nat. Coalition Party), the chairman of the parliamentary finance committee. He feels that the agreement on collateral between Finland and Greece was made public too early, and without sufficient discussion with other euro countries.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Finland and Greece agree on bailout terms (17.8.2011)
Commissioner Rehn kept in dark over collateral agreement with Greece (1.9.2011)
Finland could get Greek bank shares as collateral (31.8.2011)
Germany “taken by surprise” by collateral deal (30.8.2011)