EU tells Greece to defend its economic statistics as questions circle the data's validity

The European Commission called on Greece to defend its economics statistics agency, after doubt was cast on the validity of its data following a court case.

The former head of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (Elstat), Andreas Georgiou, resigned a year ago after being charged in 2013 with inflating figures on the Greek budget deficit in 2009.

Georgiou’s actions had the effect of making the bailout conditions imposed on Greece more onerous than they might have been, according to the court.

Greece overhauled its economic data collection in 2010 and the European Commission has called on the country to stand by its figures.

The country must refute statements in the media that “question the validity of the fiscal data underpinning the Stability Support Programme for Greece,” Marianne Thyssen, the EU commissioner for employment, said in a speech on Wednesday.

“First, we expect the Greek authorities to actively and publicly challenge the false impression that data were manipulated during 2010-2015 and to protect ELSTAT and its staff from such unfounded claims,” Thyssen said.

“Second, we call upon the Greek authorities to support and preserve the quality of Greek statistics, as well as the independence of the Hellenic Statistical System, along the lines defined in Greek statistical legislation and in the Commitment on Confidence in Statistics of 2012,” added Thyssen.

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