EU mandarin Declan Costello faces Greek wrath over ‘ultimatums’ letter

Prime minister Alex Tsipras says ‘some technocrats are trying to scare us with ultimatums’

GreekPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras: lambasted Declan Costello for writing a letter to the Greeks in which he appeared to put pressure on the country to stall a parliamentary vote on a suite of anti-poverty measures.  Photograph: EPA/Stephanie Lecocq

GreekPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras: lambasted Declan Costello for writing a letter to the Greeks in which he appeared to put pressure on the country to stall a parliamentary vote on a suite of anti-poverty measures. Photograph: EPA/Stephanie Lecocq

 

What with Michael Noonan’s cheesy jibes, Enda Kenny’s strategic snuggling up to Angela Merkel and his patronising debt lectures, the beleaguered Greeks must have it in for the Irish almost as much as they do the Germans.

And not just Irish politicians, but Irish-born civil servants.

Declan Costello, a Galway-born economist, heads up the European Commission’s mission to Greece as part of its hated troika of lenders.

Alexis Tsipras, Greece’s bellicose prime minister, this week lambasted Costello for writing a letter to the Greeks in which he appeared to put pressure on the country to stall a parliamentary vote on a suite of anti- poverty measures. “Some technocrats are trying to scare us with ultimatums,” Tsipras complained.

Costello, who won’t have been impressed to have had his letter leaked to Channel 4, has form with the Greeks. During the high-wire negotiations last month for a new credit lifeline for Greece, Costello was accused by some Greeks of drafting a leaked memo that was supposed to have been written by the Greek finance minister.

As Athens horse-traded with Brussels over a set of proposals, a copy of a letter outlining Greece’s commitments, ostensibly written by the minister Yanis Varoufakis, got out.

Some internet sleuth then had the genius idea to check the metadata on the leaked file, which suggested that the memo was in fact drafted by Costello, and not the Greeks.

Cue a wave of righteous indignation about EU mandarins pulling the strings of Greek politicians, with denials from Brussels that it was dictating terms to the Greeks.

Costello is one of the most powerful bureaucrats in the European Commission’s finance directorate, but he is also one of its most despised bureaucrats among the Greeks. One of the first things Tsipras did upon entering office was to decree that elected politicians would no longer meet unelected mandarins such as Costello.

The Irishman’s namesake, the former Fine Gael stalwart and late president of the High Court Declan Costello, famously drafted a major political policy document for Fine Gael called Towards a Just Society.

I wonder if it was ever translated into Greek?

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