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EU defends Greek deficit statistics

30 August 2016, 17:44 CET
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EU defends Greek deficit statistics

Marianne Thyssen - Photo EC

(BRUSSELS) - The European Union defended the credibility of Greece's statistics body ELSTAT Wednesday, as its former head Andreas Georgiou remains under threat of prison over reporting Greece's huge deficit in 2009.

While being careful not to comment on individual national legal proceedings as a matter of principle, the European Commission was keen to put the record straight on the validity of Greek fiscal statistics.

Referring to media statements on the court case against the former president of ELSTAT and the quality of official statistics in Greece, Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Marianne Thyssen said it was crucial that the statistical basis for economic decision-making in Europe remain reliable.

For the Commission as well as for Eurostat, the EU's statistics agency, it was "absolutely clear" that data on Greek government debt during the period 2010-2015 have been fully reliable and accurately reported to Eurostat, "unlike the situation before this period".

Ms Thyssen, who has written to the Greek authorities on the matter, was very clear that media reports that appeared to call into question the validity of the fiscal data underpinning the stability support programme for Greece were unfounded. She said such allegations could create major damage for the credibility of Greek statistics.

Against this background, the Commission is calling on Greek authorities to actively challenge "the false impression that data were manipulated during the 2010-2015 period, and to protect ELSTAT and and its staff from such unfounded claims."

The Commission said it was essential that Greece should support and preserve the quality of Greek statistics as well as the independence of the Greek statistical office.

The situation is dangerous, said Ms Thyssen, though she held back from suggesting that the Greek bailout money was under threat.the Commission no awaits Greek reaction to its statement.

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