This morning the EU Ombudsman notified me that the European Central Bank governing council had refused her office’s request to release the November 2010 communication between then ECB President Jean Claude Trichet and then Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, which I sought from the ECB two years ago.
The refusal yet again emphasises the culture of secrecy in which many European institutions operate. Despite the clear public interest in releasing the letter which the Ombudsman acknowledges, the ECB clearly believes it can operate with impunity. The decisions of the ECB, and its communications with the elected governments of Member States, are ones that European citizens should have access to, particularly in this context where Ireland has exited from the bailout and communications are a matter of record. European citizens seem to be powerless in the face of European bureaucracy and an endemic culture of secrecy within it.
Similar communications to Member States have variously come into the public domain, in Italy via a leak to the media and in Spain via a book written by the country’s former premier.
Unfortunately the EU Ombudsman has no power to compel the ECB to release the letter – her office should be empowered in this regard.
Here are the documents in relation to the release of the letter. Mario Draghi’s refusal:
The Ombudsman’s request to release: