Saturday

24th Jun 2017

EU report slams Greece over false statistics

A report published by the European Commission on Tuesday (12 January) has condemned Greece for falsifying its data on public finances.

Written up at the behest of EU finance ministers, the document talks of "deliberate misreporting of figures by the Greek authorities in 2009."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The country's newly elected Socialist government upwardly revised its 2009 deficit forecast last October from 3.7 to 12.5 percent, a considerable change that prompted credit rating downgrades and outrage in other EU member states.

"Revisions of this magnitude in the estimated past government deficit ratios have been extremely rare in other EU member states, but have taken place for Greece on several occasions," said the report.

The document continues that the Greek data is so unreliable that actual debt and deficit figures could be even higher than the revised forecast.

In a damning paragraph, the commission says: "poor co-operation and lack of clear responsibilities between several Greek institutions and services  ...ambiguous empowerment of officials, absence of written instruction and documentation, which leave the quality of fiscal statistics subject to political pressures and electoral cycles".

Questioned whether other EU governments could also be fiddling their public finance figures, the EU's economic commissioner-designate, Olli Rehn, told MEPs this week during a parliamentary hearing that he thought Greece was an isolated case.

Some analysts say the country's debt level, currently at 113 percent of gross domestic product and set to rise further, poses a major problem for Athens and could threaten the stability of the euro due to spillover effects into other member countries and market jitters.

EU governments have asked the commission to put forward a list of measures to help the embattled administration tackle the issue, with the handover likely to happen in the coming days. Greece is then expected to report back to the commission by the end of the month with a list of actions it plans to take.

Van Rompuy support

In a badly needed show of support, the EU's new permanent president, Herman Van Rompuy, said Greece is now taking steps to meet the "substantial" challenge posed by its debt and deficit levels.

After a meeting with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday, Mr Van Rompuy said he was "confident that the Greek government is already taking the necessary further steps to address the situation."

"Resolute fiscal consolidation should start without delay in 2010 and the deficit should be brought below three percent by the end of 2012," he added.

Greek experience to spur EU request for audit powers

Frustrated by the ongoing saga over Greece's public finances, the European Commission has indicated it will seek audit powers for the EU's statistics office - Eurostat - in order to verify elements of national government accounts.

Row between EU ministers halts e-book tax rate

A bill to reduce VAT rates on e-books and e-publications has become the latest victim of a row between the Czech Republic and its partners over its own plan to collect VAT.

Focus

EU and China move to fill US void

At a summit in Brussels, EU and Chinese leaders will attempt to deepen ties on trade and climate as US president Trump plans to pull out of the Paris climate deal.

Italy reaches EU deal on failing bank

After months of negotiations, the European Commission and Italy agreed on the terms of rescue for Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank, including job cuts, salary caps and private sector involvement in the bailout.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  2. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  3. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  4. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  5. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  6. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  7. Ireland and Denmark outside EU military plan
  8. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  2. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  3. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  4. EU extends sanctions on Russia
  5. UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'
  6. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  7. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  8. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit