It's all about packaging!

Published: Feb 26 , 2015
Author: Yannis Dimarakis

Most of you have followed (to some extent at least) the negotiations between the recently elected Greek government and its European partners. Depending on his or her political persuasion, an observer may feel in a number of ways regarding the outcome.

So was the agreement a huge success, or was it a full capitulation of the Greek government? I believe that most of us would agree that it was neither. A negotiation is not a battle where either side emerges victorious, having beaten to death the other side. Negotiations are about compromise  where the parties concede on issues of lesser importance in order to gain on issues of major importance. True, when issues are considered to be of major importance for all sides, and differences exist, it takes skilled negotiators to move the process forward.

So if no one was a clear winner, was this a good deal? Before giving my opinion, let me define what is “a good deal”. Two criteria have to be fulfilled, to render a deal “good”. The first criterion has to do with content. The final agreement must at least cater for the most important requirements in a sustainable way for all sides. This is rather obvious.

The most important however, is the second criterion. This has to do with packaging. That is, making sure that all parties save face and are allowed to claim some gains if not clear victory. This is what allows politicians to “sell” a deal to their constituents and keep going, even when the actual content of the final agreement leaves a lot to be desired. So, as strange as it may sound, packaging is often the most crucial element in a deal.

Considering these two criteria, content and (mainly) packaging, I can now answer the question whether this was a good deal between Greece and its EU partners. YES it was a good deal. Both sides can live with the content (at least for the next few months). Both sides can claim that they preserved the spirit of the previous memorandum (EU partners) or that they considerably improved the status quo they inherited from their predecessors (Greek government). All you have to do is choose what filter you want to use, when forming your opinion.

Yannis Dimarakis

Managing Partner, Scotwork Hellas


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