PRIVATISATION UNDER THE TROIKA - Since the beginning of the Eurozone crisis, countries have to carry out extensive privatisations in return for the Troika's bailout loans. In Portugal and Greece especially, oligarchs, large corporations and investors are making cheap purchases, hoping for huge profits. So begins a gigantic game of Monopoly. But there is one crucial difference to the family board game: the rules of Europoly already state who will win and who will lose. An instruction manual.


The rules of the Troika

This game started in 2010: He who lends money dictates the rules. He who borrows money must adhere to the rules. Before the euro crisis, it was developing countries in particular which had to learn this from international investors, but with the euro crisis Europe too is now affected. In Portugal and Greece especially, everything the state has to offer is being auctioned off under great time pressure: waterworks, banks, beaches, airports, electricity grids, ports, palaces – even mineral springs. The first chapter highlights gamers, rules and the financing.

The Bank – Just who is the Troika?

In Europoly, where people play for state property like they do for Monopoly’s streets, the role of the bank is played by the so-called Troika. At the start of the game, the bank hands out money to the EU’s crisis-affected countries. They paid €68 billion to Ireland, €270 billion to Greece, €78 billion to Portugal and finally ten billion euros to Cyprus; all after they were no longer able to borrow money in financial markets as a consequence of the eurozone crisis. Troika officials – from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Commission – then make sure the countries meet their targets, as specified in the rescue packages.

Albert Jäger is a nice man. He has a narrow face, wears glasses, speaks quietly and in measured tones and thus makes the discreet, modest impression you might expect from a civil servant. Hardly anyone in Portugal would know his face, but he has power. Mr. Jäger is the International Monetary Fund’s representative in Portugal and, along with his colleagues, has been responsible for making decisions on credit payments to Portugal in recent years. He helped decide how much money would be cut from pensioners’ incomes, to what degree protection against unlawful dismissal should be relaxed and to whom government-owned companies should be sold. Mr. Jäger works for the Troika, a committee that was never envisaged in any EU treaty and yet still determines policies in the nations affected.

Every few months, IMF and Commission officials take note in “progress reports” of what they believe is going well and in which areas the “programme country” (a Troika term) should be trying harder. Most inspectors only fly in for a few days, and the teams consist of up to 40 people. Among the most important figures in recent years from the Commission have been Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn and his negotiator Matthias Mors; the ECB usually sends in banker Klaus Masusch, while the IMF’s most important negotiator is Poul Thomson from Denmark. None of them stand out any more than the quiet Albert Jäger, nor do they particularly like to appear in public. The Troika has no real face.

Read more on the website of Europoly Tagesspiegel