Bailout Programs Are ‘Both Political and Technical,’ EU Says

The European Commission said bailout programs launched to stem the euro crisis were “both political and technical,” after a review by the International Monetary Fund’s internal watchdog raised questions about “political pressure” in the so-called troika overseeing the programs.

“Of course these programs were both political and technical,” Annika Breidthardt, a spokeswoman for the commission, told reporters in Brussels on Friday. “So of course talks took place at a technical level and at the same time also at a political level -- at the level of finance ministers and leaders. There was obviously a place for both of those,” she said.

“Stabilizing the euro area as well as stabilizing Greece, in particular, is far from a purely technical issue; it’s certainly an eminently political issue,” Breidthardt said.

The IMF’s internal watchdog, the Independent Evaluation Office, found in a report released on Thursday that the lender’s partnership with the Brussels-based commission and the European Central Bank in the troika arrangement meant that the three institutions needed to present a united front in negotiations with creditor countries over aid. That “potentially exposed IMF staff to political decisions at an earlier stage” than expected, the IEO said in its review of the fund’s crisis management in Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

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