Friday

24th May 2019

Valencia faces EU probe over dodgy statistics

  • Valencia faces an EU investigation into whether it deliberately sent false data on government spending. (Photo: SWIFT)

The European Commission has launched a probe into whether the Spanish region of Valencia is guilty of the first case of statistical fraud since the Greek crisis in 2009.

The investigation, which will look at years worth of unreported spending by the region, could carry stiff sanctions including, at worst, a fine worth up to 0.2 percent of Spain's economic output.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

In May 2012, Spain's statistical office was forced to revise up its deficit forecast for 2011 by 0.4 percent after turning up previously unrecorded spending in Valencia and Madrid. A subsequent investigation by Eurostat, the bloc's statistical agency, confirmed that Valencia had sent incorrect data on government spending to the Spanish statistical authorities for a number of years.

In a paper issued on Friday (July 11), the EU executive warned that Valencia's local government appeared to have "systematically sent incorrect information to the national statistical authorities over many years."

It added that the investigation, which could last up to 10 months, would seek "to determine whether there has indeed been deliberate manipulation and / or serious negligence and to decide which part of the “chain” was responsible for this".

For his part, Algirdas Semeta, the commissioner for statistics, said that the "quality and credibility of European statistics is not something that the Commission is willing to compromise on."

However, the commission is not calling into the question the reliability of Spain's overall data.

Under the bloc's economic governance rules, re-written in response to the eurozone debt crisis, deliberately cooking the books can carry a fine worth 0.2 percent of GDP.

Statistical fraud in Greece, where the government's deficit forecast of 4 percent for 2009 had to be revised to over 12 percent, wrecked market confidence in the country's ability to pay its bills, forcing it into the first of two bailout programmes worth €300 billion.

With the Greek crisis affecting confidence in other eurozone countries, EU politicians vowed to tighten up controls of statistical offices and production, handing new powers to Eurostat and auditors.

Regional and national offices are now required to send data to the Luxembourg-based Eurostat at least twice a year.

Meanwhile, new rules also allow Eurostat and commission officials to conduct country-specific visits in order to verify dubious data.

Spain faces fine over false statistics

Spain became the first casualty of beefed up EU rules on statistics after the European Commission recommended the country be fined €19 million for misreporting of deficit data by the region of Valencia.

EU top court backs Canada trade deal in ruling

The European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday that the EU-Canada free trade agreement, and its controversial dispute settlement mechanism, is in line with the bloc's rules.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May announces June 7 resignation date
  2. Ireland votes for EU election and divorce referendum
  3. Report: May to announce resignation plan on Friday
  4. Leading politicians: time for EU to have female leaders
  5. Poll: Finland's Green party to surge in EU elections
  6. High demand for postal voting in Denmark
  7. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  8. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all

The visit of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz to the White House on Wednesday showed that the current rift in transatlantic relations is deepening by the day.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'
  2. Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?
  3. Italy train row exposes competing views of EU
  4. Dutch socialists on top in first EP election exit poll
  5. No usage data kept for EU parliament's 'Citizens' App'
  6. EU sanctions regime cannot be an 'EU Magnitsky Act'
  7. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election
  8. Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us