7th Jul 2020

Brussels joins attack on Greece for false economic figures

  • Greece is coming under "statistical archaeology" (Photo: EUobserver)

The European Commission today (23 September) joined the chorus of condemnation regarding Greece's false presentation of its economic data.

The Commission's statistical arm, Eurostat, confirmed in statement today huge upwards revisions for the Greek budget deficit in 2000 - 2003, pushing the country above the EU's three percent limit for these three years.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

And Economics and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a comment, "the revisions are of a size and scope that is causing real worries in the Commission".

However, Greece's "suitability" to be a member of the euro zone is not being called into question.

Mr Almunia's spokesman told journalists today, "the decision was made with the best data available at the time ... I don't think there is envisaged any kind of possibility to reopen these kinds of decisions".

Statistical archaeology

Despite this, Eurostat Director-General Michel Vanden Abeele said today that he was sending a team to Athens to verify the figures prior to 2000 - a process he described as "statistical archaeology".

The decision to admit Greece into the euro zone was based, amongst other things, on the deficit figures for 1997-1999 but Eurostat began to notice irregularities in the Greek data from 2002, Mr Vanden Abeele revealed today.

The President of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet yesterday described the issue as "a really enormous problem".

More resources, please

Mr Vanden Abeele also made a public plea for more resources for his department. Given the importance of accurate economic statistics, he said, the EU can no longer rely on declarations from member states "which could change with the wind".

He said that a more thorough audit of figures was required but that he had very scarce resources to deal with this - he will be asking the Commission for more.

Top investment bank slams 'shambolic' euro rules

Europe's fiscal framework is in shambles and "serious disarray" says top investment bank Morgan Stanley as the Commissioner responsible for the euro rules prepares to flesh out his ideas for reforming the framework.

Greece admits breaking rules before joining euro

Greek membership of the euro is not in doubt, according to the European Commission - this despite Athens admitting it breached euro-rules at the time of joining the single currency.

EU plans tougher checks on foreign takeovers

The EU and its member countries are worried that foreign powers, such as China and its state-owned companies will take advantage of the economic downturn and buy up European firms

Vestager hits back at Lufthansa bailout criticism

Commission vice-president in charge of competition Margarethe Vestager argued that companies getting large capital injections from the state during the corona crisis still have to offset their competitive advantage.


EU leaders to reconvene in July on budget and recovery

Most EU leaders want an agreement before the summer break, but the Dutch PM, leading the 'Frugal Four', warned there might not even be a deal then. But the ECB's Christian Lagarde has warned of a "dramatic" economic fall.


EU leaders seek to first narrow differences at summit

EU leaders on Friday will share their takes - online - on the €750bn recovery and €1.1 trillion budget plans, before they try to seal the deal at one or two likely head-to-head meetings in July.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Commission chief under fire for Croatia campaign video
  2. Parliament vaping booths 'too confidential' to discuss
  3. Belarus: Inside Lukashenko’s crackdown on independent voices
  4. The rationale behind US troop withdrawals from Germany
  5. Podcast: Nordic region speaks out on big global challenges
  6. Croatia re-elects PM amid corona downturn
  7. Budget talks shift gear This WEEK
  8. Cardinals speak out: EU needs corporate due diligence

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us