EU task force for Greece had several shortcomings, say auditors

16 February 2016
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The group of European Union experts who helped Greece abide by the terms of its bailout programs had several shortcomings and missed some of its targets, EU auditors said on Tuesday.

Set up in 2011 after Greece was bailed out by eurozone countries, the EU Commission’s task force had about 50 staff that provided technical assistance to spend EU development money and reform the Greek public administration and the tax system.

”Although the Task Force proved itself as a mechanism for delivering complex technical assistance, there were weaknesses in the design of some projects and only mixed results in terms of influence on the progress of reform,” the EU auditor Baudilio Tome Muguruza said in a statement.

The report, produced by the European Court of Auditors, an EU institution in charge of auditing EU’s finances, found that technical assistance was delivered to the Greek authorities in accordance with the task force’s mandate, but it did not always advance the reforms sufficiently.

Auditors said also that the task force lacked a clear plan because it was set up in haste to face the Greek emergency.

“A comprehensive needs analysis was (..) available, allowing the Commission to take a political decision to answer the urgency of the Greek request,” the European Commission replied to the auditors’ remarks in a statement included in the report.

The task force differed from the so-called ‘troika’ set up by the Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, to design reforms in Greece.

However, the task force drew much criticism as the troika did, and was dismantled in July 2015 after pressure from the leftist government of Alexis Tsipras.

While praising the system set up by the task force to monitor progress, the auditors raised concerns on some inconsistencies and lack of a systematic approach in assessing results.

The task force achieved its targets only partially, auditors concluded.

“Progress on structural spending was good, but only partially effective in public administration and taxation reform,” the report said, conceding that the group of experts worked in a “volatile political situation in Greece” and the results were often beyond its control.

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