By ERIC MAURICE
The Greek government must guarantee the independence of its statistics office, the European Commission has said, weeks after criminal charges were brought against a former data chief.
The EU executive said failing to protect the statistics office could be “dangerous” for the Greek bailout programme.
Andreas Georgiou, who headed the Greek Hellenic Statistical Authority (Elstat), was charged for falsifying data between 2010 and 2015.
On 1 August, Greece’s Supreme Court said that Georgiou should be tried for inflating figures about the country’s deficit and debt.
Under Georgiou, Elstat said that Greece’s deficit for 2009 was 15.4 percent of GDP, not 13.6 percent as previously said by authorities. Georgiou’s critics say that as a consequence a harsher bailout programme was imposed on Greece.
But EU social affairs commissioner Marianne Thyssen told journalists on Wednesday that it was “absolutely clear that data on Greek government debt during the period 2010-2015 have been fully reliable and accurately reported to Eurostat”.
She added that it was “unlike the situation before this period” when Greece underestimated deficit figures.