Sunday

26th Jan 2020

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."

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 join as a group

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.

Feature

Promises and doubts: Africa's free-trade adventure

The EU is hoping that a continent-wide free trade agreement in Africa will help lift millions out of poverty and help solve issues of security and migration. But its message of values and equal partnership do not resonate with everyone.

Interview

EU Africa envoy: Europe needs to look beyond migration

Europe's obsession with migration from Africa means it risks losing out the continent's potential when it comes to trade, says the EU's ambassador to the African Union, Ranier Sabatucci. "Africa is a growing continent, it is the future," he says.

EU agrees 2020 budget deal

EU governments and the parliament agreed in marathon talks ino next year's budget - which will boost spending on climate, border protection, and the European satellite system. It will also be a benchmark if there is no long-term budget deal.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan premier refuses to step down, despite ruling
  2. UK set to support new fossil fuel projects in Africa
  3. Leftists MEPs travel to visit jailed Catalan MEP
  4. Bulgaria may expel Russian diplomats over 'espionage'
  5. EU, China, others agree on WTO body to settle disputes
  6. EU Commission makes move against Poland on judges law
  7. Soros pledges $1bn for liberal universities
  8. Merkel: Germany unprepared for 2015 refugee crisis

Feature

Promises and doubts: Africa's free-trade adventure

The EU is hoping that a continent-wide free trade agreement in Africa will help lift millions out of poverty and help solve issues of security and migration. But its message of values and equal partnership do not resonate with everyone.

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. AI must have human oversight, MEPs recommend
  2. Second-hand cars flaw in EU Green Deal
  3. Why do EU arms end up in Libya despite UN ban?
  4. Brexit deal to be signed, as sides poised for tough talks
  5. Timmermans urges EU governments to tax carbon
  6. Vietnam sent champagne to MEPs ahead of trade vote
  7. China spy suspect had EU permission to work as lobbyist
  8. EU to unveil 5G 'toolbox' to tackle security threats

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us