To the President of the European Commission H.E. Jean Claude Juncker
Rue de la Loi 200, 1049, Brussels, Belgium
In attachment, please find a request of mine addressed to the European Commission by which I am invoking article 41.3 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union to request indemnization for damages caused to my person by mistakes of the European Union and its Institutions.
As a junior diplomat I was a member of the delegation that negotiated the accession of Greece to the EEC, but it was a different organization from that existing today. The EEC gave emphasis to the citizens of the member-states their prosperity and social rights contrary to what is happening today where priority is given to the safety of the banking sector while totally disregarding the interests and rights of the citizens of the EU. As Director General of EU Affairs in the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2004, I participated in the negotiations for the EU Constitution and in General Affairs Councils.
Concerning Greece, the official reason that the memoranda policy of programmes of strict austerity was imposed upon my country was to reduce the public debt that in 2010 was about 120% of GDP. But instead of reducing it, it has reached today the level of about 185%.However, we all know that the real reason was to save French and German banks from defaulting if Greece were to declare bankruptcy. From the outset it was clear to many that the measures would not be effective, but those in charge of planning and implementing them refused to change the erroneous policies even after acknowledging their mistakes.
The measures imposed upon Greece violate the human rights of the Greek people. Many reports have been published on these violations. The report of of the independent expert of the UN Cephas Lumina on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights (A/HRC/35/50 Add.220.127.116.114), the report of the UN independent expert Pablo Bohoslavsky (A/HRC31/60/ add.2,29.2.2016) and the report of the Truth Committee of the Hellenic Parliament on Public Debt of August and October 2015. The Treaty of the European Union and the Charter of Fundamental Rights have also been violated, in particular article 2 concerning the respect of human dignity and of human rights. These human rights violations have resulted in the deaths of many Greeks through the collapse of the National Health System (public financing of health was reduced by 42.5%), malnourishment, lack of proper heating, suicide, etc. Before 2009, the yearly average of deaths in Greece was between 60 to 70,000 people per year. In 2017, this number reached 124,832, while in 2018 it was 120,886. The Greek Governments from 2010 onwards, the member states of the Eurozone, the EU as an institution and the IMF all share responsability for human rights violations in Greece, which have lead to the death of so many people. In 2017 and 2018 I visited the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the Benelux countries and Berlin, where in meetings with their Human Rights Departments, I raised the issue of human rights violations in Greece. They all acknowledged the violation of human rights and attributed the problem to the lack of interest in this issue of the Eurogroup, and they did not know how to solve the issue. My reply to them was to follow the recommendations of the UN independent experts who proposed not to adopt austerity measures that would violate human rights. Unfortunately, human rights violations continued in spite of a meeting held with the UN independent expert and the European Commission in 2015.
I am certain that my request for indemnization will be rejected, and the arguments that will be used will be the following:
- You will tell me that the programme documents are not EU law but intergovernmental acts, and that the MOU’s are not EU acts but instruments agreed bilaterally between Greece and its Lenders. Consequently EU laws are not applicable in my case and that art.41.3 cannot be applied. My reply to that would be that it is not becoming of the EU to hide behind legal technicalities in order not to implement articles of the Treaty. I remember when this article was being discussed in the framework of the negotiations of the Treaty: we were assured by the representative of the Commission that this article was to fully protect the European citizen from mistakes made by the EU institutions.
- You will tell me that I am obliged to appeal to the European Court of Justice which is competent in such cases. I will reply to you that I do not have the financial means to go to the ECJ and I would propose an out of court settlement with you.
- Finally you will tell me that the Greek government is responsible for the reduction of my pension by 60%. My reply to that would be that if the EU institutions had not imposed such measures, the Greek government would never had taken them.
Of course, you may find other reasons to reject my request but that is not the issue.
The issue is that articles of the Treaty concerning the protection of EU citizens from mistakes of the EU Institutions should be implemented in favor of the citizens – if justified – and not of the Institutions. This should be seriously taken into consideration in view of the elections for the European Parliament in May.
In anticipation of your reply, please accept, your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration,
Ambassador ad Honorem
Agioi Apostoloi 45,25100, Aigio, Greece
ΑN ARTICLE BY AMBASSADOR AD HONOREM LEONIDAS CHRYSANTHOPOULOS
PUBLISHED IN DIARIO DI NOTICIAS OF LISBON ON MAY 8.2019.
Article 41 par.3 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU mentions that ”every person has the right to have the Community make good any damage caused by its institutions or by its servants in the performance of their duties, in accordance with the general principles common to the laws of the member states”. On January 12,2019 I invoked this article and the invocation letter was attached to a letter that I addressed to the president of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker. I requested indemnization for the reduction of my pension by 60%.
In my letter to Juncker, I describe in detail the tragic situation of Greece and the human rights violations taking place because of the austerity measures imposed by the EU and mention is made about the emphasis that the EU gives towards the banking sector while disregarding the interests of the European people. The letter states that my request will be rejected and I give him the arguments that will be used for the rejection. In particular I mention that I will be told that the MOU’s are not EU acts but instruments agreed bilaterally between Greece and its lenders. Consequently EU law is not applicable in my case and that article 41 p.3 cannot be applied. My response to that would be that it is not becoming of the EU to use technical legalities to avoid implementing articles of the Treaty. I also continue by writing that Ι will be told that the European Court of justice is competent to examine such cases. My reply to that is that since I do not have the financial means to go to the Court, I propose an out of court settlement. I will also be told that it is the fault of the Greek government that my pension was reduced by 60%, to which i would reply that had the EU not obliged the Greek government to take such measures, these measures would never have been taken.
In the invocation of article 41p.3 letter, the technical proof of my request is provided and also statements made by EU officials admitting the mistakes made on the issue of Greece. The former president of the EUROGROUP J.Dijjsebloem in an interview that he gave to the Greek newspaper “Ta Nea” on August 27, 2018 admitted that mistakes were made by the Europeans in handling the Greek crisis, saying that initially they experimented and it took four years for them to stand on their feet and set up mechanisms to confront the crisis.He conceded that a different policy should have been implemented in Greece, as the bailout programs were very strict and their implementation very difficult. The member of the European Commission Pierre Moscovici (pictured) in his blog of August 20, 2018 mentions: ”Yet mistakes were also made-in Athens, Brussels, Berlin and Washigton unecessarily prolonging the crisis. We also underestimated the disastrous state that Greece was in when this started. What appeared to be a single budgetary crisis was, in reality, a deep crisis of the Greek state and economy, so deep it took several years even to properly assess it. As a result the design of the three consecutive financial assistance programmes was imperfect…….Finally I will not forget the role of the institutions responsible for running the programmes. Collaboration between the European Commission, the ECB, the IMF and later the ESM has not always been easy. The financial expertise of the IMF was initially necessary and has been useful; but certain positions were too brutal and personal, antagonized relations with the Greeks and even led the Eurogroup to adopt reforms that in my opinion, were too harsh, particularly those on pensions due to kick in 2019. Eight years of crisis is far too long. Politicians bear some responsibility and I will accept my share……..It must be recognized that the measures used were sometimes intrusive and that these officials had a major influence on the process……….It was, however, the Eurogroup who took the final decisions, without any real democratic control. I myself felt uneasy when we decided, behind closed doors, on the fate of millions of Greeks. I said it last year and I say it again today. It is a democratic scandal. Not because ministers acted with any kind of ill will, but because they were not fully informed or did not have a precise mandate from their national parliaments.”
The European Commision received my registered letter to its President on January 17,2019. On February 27, I sent an e mail to Michael Shotter, member of the cabinet of the President, sending him the previous correspondence and requesting a reply. Since then I have received no reply whatsoever. It should be recalled that article 17 of the Treaty mentions that the Commission shall ensure the application of the Treaties.
It is a shame for the Commission not to reply to letters asking officially for the implementation of articles of the Treaty by EU citizens, to ignore them and to violate the Treaties that it is obliged to implement. Consequently, the rise of indignation – which is presented as populism – of the European people is also a result of the violation by the EU of its own Treaties. In view of the forthcoming European elections, preference should be given to elect parties that have never before been in the European parliament, with the hope that a renewed parliament may oblige the other EU institutions to respect the rights of the people of Europe.
Ambassador ad honorem