ECB agrees to review Trichet letter release

In light of comments made by ECB Governing Council member Patrick Honohan in the book on Brian Lenihan I recently resubmitted my request for access to the letter that had previously been refused to this blog by ECB President Mario Draghi.

I see today RTE is reporting that MEP Sean Kelly has also been seeking access to the letter.

On October 7, I sent a new access to information request to the ECB, again seeking the letter. We said:

…In a previous appeal to the EU Ombudsman and to Mr Draghi, access
to this document was refused. However new information has now come
to light.

It was reported this week that ECB Governing Council Member Patrick
Honohan has contributed to a book in which he outlines information
related to the contents of the November 19 letter. In the book he
says:

“The Troika staff told Brian in categorical terms that burning the
bondholders would mean no programme and, accordingly, could not be
countenanced,” Dr Honohan writes. “For whatever reason, they waited
until after this showdown to inform me of this decision, which had
apparently been taken at a very high-level teleconference to which
no Irish representative was invited.” –

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/revealed-the-troika-threats-to-bankrupt-ireland-30621197.html

In light of the fact that an ECB council member has chosen to
publicly express the views being argued by the Troika at that time,
it now appears – given that the eurozone has not collapsed – that
release of the letter is not in fact a threat to the stability of
the eurozone. I can no longer see any reason why it should not be
released immediately in the public interest.

Yours faithfully,

On October 15, the ECB responded. They said:

Dear Mr Sheridan,

As you will be aware, the ECB President mentioned in his communication to
the European Ombudsman in March this year that the Governing Council
made a commitment to re-evaluate the disclosure of the letter dated 19
November 2010 from Mr Trichet to Mr Lenihan at a “more advanced stage of
the post-programme surveillance”. The completion of the so-called
Comprehensive Assessment (CA) exercise by end-October would provide such
an opportunity to review the stance taken to date on the disclosure of
this letter in light of the outcome of the thorough review of the largest
banks’ balance sheets.

Against this backdrop and in view of the fact that the Governing Council
in all likelihood will re-evaluate the disclosure of the above-mentioned
letter in the course of November, I wanted to check with you whether it
would be acceptable for you that we keep your request on hold until
this reassessment has been concluded. Should it turn out, for whatever
reason, that such a re-evaluation could not be feasibly undertaken during
next month, I would, of course, inform you accordingly and we would
proceed with the formal assessment of your request in line with the ECB’s
Decision on public access to ECB documents.

Please let us know if the above is agreeable to you.

Many thanks & best regards,
Roman Schremser
Senior Adviser
DG Secretariat

I responded that I am happy to wait until November 30, 2014. We will see what happens.

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