Lessons learnt: how troubled countries should be saved in future 

How should bail-out countries be helped? ©BELGA_AGEFOTOSTOCK 

The Troika's work has been investigated by the Parliament since December and it is now time to draw conclusions. On Thursday 13 March MEPs vote on the two own-initiative reports, which they debated the day before. We talked to the report authors - Othmar Karas (EPP, Austria), Liêm Hoang-Ngoc (S&D, France)and Alejandro Cercas (S&D, Spain) - about how EU countries in financial difficulties should be supported in the future.

The bail-outs in eurozone countries are managed by a group of international lenders called the Troika, made up of representatives of the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. A report by the economic committee, written by Mr Karas and Mr Liêm Hoang-Ngoc, looked at the Troika's working methods and results. Meanwhile a report by the employment committee, penned by Mr Cercas, focussed on how these decisions affected employment and society.

Mr Karas stressed it was important that the Troika finished the on-going programmes. "However, we need transparent and binding rules of procedure to enhance democratic oversight," he said.  "As we work on a Community-based crisis management tool, I have called for the establishment of a European Monetary Fund, which should combine the money of the European Stability Mechanism with the expertise that the Commission has gained over the last years."

He added that Europe needed instruments to deal with situations where member states are almost bankrupt. "But we also need instruments to prevent member states coming even close to bankruptcy. In the long run, I therefore call for a State Bankruptcy Prevention Law."

Mr Hoang-Ngoc underlined that for the next rescue operation the mechanism that will replace the Troika has to respect the EU's laws and basic principles: "Policy options will have to be carefully debated and chosen by elected representatives in the member state concerned and at EU level. This is why we are calling for both the EP and national parliaments to be properly involved in the design, approval and monitoring of the programmes. The policy recommended must be economically efficient and socially fair."

He added that the EU does not only have to tame the markets and reduce public debt, but also "invest for long lasting, job creating and environmentally sustainable growth".

Meanwhile, Mr Cercas said: "The adjustment programmes can not undermine collective agreements signed by social partners, cut or freeze minimum wages and pensions systems putting them below the poverty threshold, or make access to basic medical and pharmaceutical products and to affordable housing harder."  He concluded: "Economic policy needs to be at the service of employment."

When putting together his report, Mr Cercas asked for contributions via the EP's LinkedIn discussion group where people could express their views and experiences. Some of that input was included in the final report.

This article was first published on 7 March 2014.