Monday

27th Jun 2022

Spain faces fine over false statistics

  • Countries deliberately cooking the books can be fined 0.2 percent of their GDP (Photo: Valentina Pop)

Spain became the first casualty of beefed up EU rules on statistics after the European Commission Thursday (7 April) recommended the country be fined €19 million for misreporting of deficit data by the region of Valencia.

"Sound fiscal policy is a fundamental precondition for economic growth and stability. We have learned this lesson the hard way in the last years," said EU commissioner Marianne Thyssen, in charge of statistical agency Eurostat.

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 EU investigation found that Valenican authorities had "systematically sent incorrect information to the national statistical authorities over many years."

Reports by local auditors and the regional health ministry "seem to have been ignored" said the commission.

But it found Valencia guilty of being "seriously negligent" rather than acting with intent.

The matter came to light in May 2012 when the Spanish government told Eurostat if would have to revise its budget deficit for 2011 upwards, largely due to Valencia's incomplete data.

The €18.93 million fine has to be given the green light by member states to take effect.

The sum is 80 percent lower than it could have been, as the commission took into account the fact Spain co-operated fully and the faulty figures were due to "one entity acting alone".

Under rules that went into force in November 2011, the commission can launch an investigation if a member state or region is suspected of manipulating statistics. Countries caught deliberating cooking the books can be fined up to 0.2 percent of GDP.

The new powers were a direct result of the eurozone debt crisis, and specifically Greece, where misreporting of the country's statistics was known about for many years but not acted upon.

The Greek situation eventually meant that a deficit forecast of 4 percent for 2009 had to be revised to over 12 percent, sending markets into a tailspin and leading the country into the first of its bailout programmes.

Looking to the future, Thyssen said the commission is not currently investigating any other national statistical authorities. But she noted: "We will use our powers when we have to use them".

Valencia faces EU probe over dodgy statistics

The EU 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.

Opinion

Expect Czech EU presidency to downgrade V4 priorities

The Czech Republic is already in the throes of an extremely difficult period — several waves of Covid, high inflation, energy fears, an influx of Ukrainian refugees and a Prague corruption scandal. Now it has the EU presidency.

Agenda

G7, Nato, gas anxiety and Ukraine top This WEEK

EU energy ministers and environment ministers are expected to reach common positions on different aspects of the Fit for 55 package — as the continent is increasingly worried about energy prices and future supplies.

Agenda

G7, Nato, gas anxiety and Ukraine top This WEEK

EU energy ministers and environment ministers are expected to reach common positions on different aspects of the Fit for 55 package — as the continent is increasingly worried about energy prices and future supplies.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  2. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  4. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBHow price increases affect construction workers
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic think tank examines influence of tech giants

Latest News

  1. Expect Czech EU presidency to downgrade V4 priorities
  2. Big polluters should have no role in planning EU energy policy
  3. G7, Nato, gas anxiety and Ukraine top This WEEK
  4. Death toll rising after thousands storm Spain's wall in Africa
  5. EU summit's uncertainty in the face of economic war
  6. Next winter's gas looms large at EU summer summit
  7. Ukraine becomes EU candidate after 120 days of war
  8. How to enhance EU cybersecurity

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us