This seminar will examine the reform of the Greek public revenue administration through its ‘depoliticisation’, i.e. by placing it ‘at arm’s length’ and thus increasing its autonomy from government ministers at the operational and organisational levels, as a direct consequence of the bailout programmes.
Before the onset of the crisis it was an integral part of the Athenian central government bureaucracy but it has been transformed into an independent public revenue authority. Our central argument is that this reform process exhibits key hallmarks of i) historical institutionalism (especially the inefficiency of the process) and ii) the literature on conditionality: while the broad direction of change (in response to a real problem) is appropriate and has been dictated by power asymmetries – in particular Greece’s overwhelming need for financial assistance – the final outcome was partly shaped by key choices made by the Greek governments in line with the literature on conditionality. In other words, the weaker party ended up shaping the final outcome malgré lui. As a result, the new institutional set-up went further than it had to go in order to resolve the issue at hand in a reform that has dealt with one issue but exacerbated another one. This shows the limits of both the external constraints and the logic of conditionality both of which are at the heart of the bailout programmes.
Dionyssis G. Dimitrakopoulos is Senior Lecturer in Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London.
Argyris Passas is Associate Professor of State Administration and European Integration at the Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences.
Spyros Economides is Director of the Hellenic Observatory and Associate Professor of International Relations and European Politics at LSE.
The Hellenic Observatory (@HO_LSE) is part of the European Institute at the LSE. Established in 1996, it is internationally recognised as one of the premier research centres on contemporary Greece and Cyprus.
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