Friday

24th Sep 2021

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

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe 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.

Luxembourg tax scandal may prompt EU action

An investigation into Luxembourg's tax regime has uncovered how the Italian mafia, the Russian underworld, and billionaires attempt to stash away their wealth. The European Commission has put itself on standby amid suggestions changes to EU law may be needed.

Vietnam jails journalist critical of EU trade deal

A journalist who had demanded the EU postpone its trade deal with Vietnam until human rights improved has been sentenced to 15 years in jail. The EU Commission says it first needs to conduct a detailed analysis before responding.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed

Latest News

  1. Activists: 'More deaths' expected on Polish-Belarus border
  2. EU unveils common charger plan - forcing Apple redesign
  3. Central Europe leaders rail against 'new liberal woke virus'
  4. Yemen's refugees in 'appalling conditions', says UN agency
  5. VW emissions software was illegal, top EU lawyer says
  6. Sexism and the selection of the European Parliament president
  7. More French names linked to Russia election-monitoring
  8. Negotiations set for new, tougher, EU ethics body

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us