EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, EU Council leader Charles Michel, European Central Bank’s Christine Lagarde and the Eurogroup’s Paschal Donohoe have been meeting for the past 18 months. The Brussels top chiefs have been discussing the fiscal and monetary policies needed to prevent another economic disaster from materialising in the eurozone.
But the secrecy behind the meetings, of which there is no record-keeping, has infuriated MEPs in the European Parliament, who have questioned the EU chiefs’ transparency.
Belgian MEP Johan Van Overtveldt, who served as finance minister for four years under Mr Michel’s government when he was prime minister, said: “I haven’t seen anything of it.
“Maybe not surprising given the urgency of the pandemic.
“But no, I didn’t see any initiatives, invitations, announcements or whatever.”
MEP Sven Giegold of the Green group expressed his dissatisfaction that the European Parliament is not involved in the talks.
But a spokesman for Charles Michel said that the meetings were “coordination meetings, not decision-making meetings”.
They added: “Each institution discusses or takes its decisions in its own relevant framework.”
European Parliament President David Sassoli seemed less bothered.
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“Especially, when we’re talking now about the four presidents meeting, because they’re talking about monetary policy and economic policy.”
Czech liberal MEP Ondřej Kovařík also raised the point that non-eurozone countries should also be involved in the talks.
He said: “The coordination of economic policies should involve all the member states and there are no differences between eurozone and non-eurozone countries.
“The strength is in the single market of 27 and I think that the joint approach, including the fiscal stimuluses, will be a huge part of the success of recovery.
“This should be borne in mind by all the parties that are concerned.”
Officials close to the four EU chiefs deny the meetings were ever secret, pointing to a press release and tweets from Charles Michel’s spokesman, as well as from Mr Donohoe, Ms Lagarde and Ms von der Leyen.
In March, Mr Michel said the group was “exploring different paths to respond to the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic.”