Jean-Claude Juncker: Speaking about touchy economic topics..“When it becomes serious, you have to lie.”
Economic policy of the eurozone needs to be decided in “dark, secret rooms”, Eurogroup chief and Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker said at a conference organised by the European Movement. Challenged by a member of the audience to reverse this undemocratic attitude, Juncker called him “naive” and said he’d rather be labelled as undemocratic than fuel market speculations.
Is lying considered an appropriate mode of communication for euro-zone leaders?
We have to wonder after a strange episode on Friday evening. Here’s what happened:
Just before 6 p.m., German news magazine Spiegel Online distributed a report saying that euro-zone finance ministers were convening a secret, emergency meeting in Luxembourg that evening to discuss a Greek demand to quit the euro zone.
Calls from reporters flooded in to Guy Schuller, the spokesman for Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, the man who is the head of the Eurogroup council of euro-zone finance ministers.
In a phone call and text messages with two reporters for Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Schuller repeatedly said no meeting would be held. He apparently said the same to other news outlets; at least one more moved his denials on financial newswires.
Of course, there was a meeting–although not, apparently, to talk about Greece quitting the currency, which would be an extreme step to say the least. Mr. Juncker even said a few words to reporters who had hustled to Luxembourg to stake out the gathering.
So why the lie?
“I was told to say there was no meeting,” said Mr. Schuller, reached by telephone Monday. “We had certain necessities to consider.”
Evening in Europe is midday in the United States. “We had Wall Street open at that point in time,” Mr. Schuller said. The euro was falling on the Spiegel report, which had overhyped the meeting. “There was a very good reason to deny that the meeting was taking place.” It was, he said, “self-preservation.”
Asked whether such deliberate misinformation would undermine the market’s confidence in future euro-zone pronouncements, Mr. Schuller, lamenting that the market had practically no confidence in pronouncements already, said “not at all.”
When Mr. Juncker, or European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, or French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde say something to the markets, Mr. Schuller said, “nobody seems to believe it.”
Mr. Juncker, who has been prime minister of Luxembourg since 1995, has been president of the Eurogroup since 2005. In that position, he bears primary responsibility for communicating the euro-zone’s financial and economic posture. At press conferences after Eurogroup meetings, he shares the dais with European Economy Commissioner Olli Rehn–and almost always speaks first.
Mr. Juncker has voiced support for the practice of lying before.
The Web site EUobserver has video of Mr. Juncker, at a conference on economic governance in April, expounding on the practice and reasons for lying in financial and economic communications.
he said it..not me..hes spilled the beans.. its acceptable to lie to the population if its a touchy subject..well so much for transparency..like it ever existed anyway..nice one juncker..