Commission tries to solidify the EU statistical system

Press conference by Louis Galea, Member of the European Court of Auditors, on the ECA special report on European statistics, (EC Audiovisual Services).

Press conference by Louis Galea, Member of the European Court of Auditors, on the ECA special report on European statistics, (EC Audiovisual Services).

The Greek ‘tragedy’ that became the script of the first chapter of Eurozone’s story of sovereign debt crisis, had in its forefront the fraudulent use of statistics. It suffices to remind that the 2009 Greek state budget was voted in parliament in December 2008 with a headline deficit of 2.8% of the GDP, only to be finalised two years later at 15.6% of the GDP. Of course this was not the first time that Greece manipulated its own statistics. In 2001 the country reportedly joined the Eurozone, also on false inflation and state budget deficit statistics.

However Greece was not the only country to manipulate its own statistics. More than ten years ago, when the Eurozone was formed many countries, even Germany, were prettifying their consumer price inflation records. At that time budget deficits were a minor issue and the main problem in joining the Eurozone was inflation and interest rates. In any case member states statistical services were then operating as an integral part of national administrations and consequently they were prone in accommodating government ‘needs’.

Statistical accommodation?

According to the latest amendment of the legal base of European Community Statistics (Eurostat), with the regulation No 223/2009, , “In order to enhance trust in European statistics, the national statistical authorities should in each Member State, as should the Community statistical authority within the Commission, enjoy professional independence and ensure impartiality and high quality in the production of European statistics”. Practically though all EU statistical services still depend on governments for their budgets and the appointment of their governing councils.

In Greece there is still controversy about the truthfulness of the government deficit and debt statistics. The Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) insists it is “is an independent Authority enjoying operational independence, as well as administrative and financial autonomy”. However there is still a conflict within the ELSTAT’s governing council, over the 2009 government budget deficit. Some of its members argue that the final estimate of it at 15.6% of the GDP was a compromise between Athens and Brussels and largely overestimates the real deficit. The same people state that this estimate was approved only by the President of the ELSTAT, after suggestions from Brussels.

The issue has even reached the courtrooms. In view of that, there was a statement issued by the Members of the European Statistical System on recent developments concerning ELSTAT in Greece. It goes like that, “We the undersigned, who collectively as members of the European Statistical System Committee are responsible for overseeing the production of European Statistics to be in compliance with the highest professional standards throughout the European Union, wish to express our deep concern at recent developments with regard to ELSTAT in Greece…While fully respecting the independence of national judicial systems and abstaining from commenting on ongoing court cases, we are concerned that political debates surrounding judicial action taken against the Head of the Greek statistical office (ELSTAT) and the calling into question of the validity of data”.

Now the Commission comes out and sets new rules “to safeguard high quality, comparable statistics for the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure”. This is a very delicate and crucial matter, because the whole apparatus of the new and strict fiscal auditing of Eurozone member states is based on accurate statistics. According to the ‘two and six pack’ regulations, the statistical monitoring of the government deficits and sovereign debt plays a fundamental role. Eurozone’s fiscal health is supposed to be closely supervised by the system of member state statistical services and duly reported to Brussels, for approval, correction or even punishment. This is the widely advertised new fiscal environment of Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure (MIP).

New beginning

As a result the EU statistical system appears as the linchpin of the new Eurozone economic and financial univercet. Unfortunately there is the negative experience of the failure of the previous system of fiscal deficit and state debt monitoring and reporting, on which the euro area was initially based. That is why the Commission is now taking a new initiative. According to a Commission Press release issued last Friday, “Robust new rules for compiling, monitoring and reporting statistics for the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure (MIP) have been proposed by the European Commission today. The aim is to ensure that the data used for the MIP is comparable, reliable and of the highest quality, so that Member States’ macroeconomic imbalances can be efficiently identified and addressed at an early stage”.

Time will show if the European statistical system is to avoid the blunders of past.

 

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

10 Downing street: Another desperate attempt to unite Britain on Brexit

Global Report on Food Crises reveals scope of food crises as COVID-19 poses new risks to vulnerable countries

High internet taxes are restricting access and slowing economic growth

Telemedicine: union when the rule is isolation

First-ever World Braille Day underscores importance of written language for human rights

More children killed by unsafe water, than bullets, says UNICEF chief

Coronavirus: Commission concludes exploratory talks with Valneva to secure a new potential vaccine

This is how a smart factory actually works

Here are six bold ideas to accelerate sustainable energy innovation

Smokers who quit one month before surgery reap benefits: UN health agency

Black Panther’s ‘General Okoye’ joins the fight against gender-based violence

‘From farm to plate’, first-ever World Food Safety Day demonstrates the need to take unsafe food off the menu

Access to health in the developped and developing world

Brexiteer May gets lip-service from Trump and Turkish promises from Erdogan

6 things to know about coronavirus today, 1 April

Syria: Why did the US now take the Russian offer for a truce? What next?

A day in the life of a Venezuelan migrant in Boa Vista, Brazil

EU’s judicial cooperation arm, Eurojust, to become more effective with new rules

State of the Union 2018: The Hour of European Sovereignty

Madagascar: UN chief commends nation on first round of peaceful elections

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: from cardboard beds to recycled medals, how the Games are going green

Eurozone again whipped by Greek winds

Action needed to end deadly clashes between African herders and farmers: UN chief

UN experts voice ‘deep concern’ over Iran’s ‘consistent pattern’ of denying life-saving medical treatment to detainees

European Accessibility Act: Parliament and Council negotiators strike a deal

COVID-19 and natural disasters: €823 million in EU aid for eight member states

“There are many converging visions and interests between the One Belt One Road initiative and the Juncker Investment Plan”, Ambassador Yang of the Chinese Mission to EU highlights from Brussels

EU to take action against fake news and foreign electoral interference

Charles Michel advocates a strong Europe that acts where it can add real value

Humanitarian Aid 2016: The needs, the highlights, the crisis and the relief

The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on mental health

‘Right to disconnect’ should be an EU-wide fundamental right, MEPs say

This is how COVID-19 is affecting informal workers

UN chief condemns deadly attacks in Pakistan

Some Prevailing Arguments and Perceptions over the South China Sea Issue Are Simply Wrong

My Mothers

MEPs adopt plan to keep 2020 EU funding for UK in no-deal Brexit scenario

Global Goals top General Assembly President’s priority list

Tunisia wants to change inheritance rules to boost gender equality

Banks launch green charter to help shipping reduce its carbon footprint

Europe plans to send satellites into space to monitor CO2 emissions

Report on EU trade defence – effective protection against unfair trade

Road to Brexit: the UK seeks early agreement on Data Privacy with the EU

How data can empower patients to personalize and improve their cancer treatment

Chart of the day: These countries have the largest carbon footprints

Extra mild ECB tapering of QE and zero interest rates keep euro low

Connect 4 Impact – a virtual journey around the globe WSA Global Congress 2021 – March 22-24

Central banking in times of complexity

Government internet ban leaves parts of Myanmar ‘in a blackout’, UN expert calls for immediate lifting

You’ve heard of 5G, but what about the quantum internet?

In Christchurch, UN chief calls for tolerance, solidarity to extinguish ‘wildfire’ of hate speech

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: There is a new draft agreement on the negotiating table

‘Provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric’ destabilizing Middle East, warns top UN official

Security Union: A Counter-Terrorism Agenda and stronger Europol to boost the EU’s resilience

Europe provides financial support to African countries while Turkey denies to change terrorism laws jeopardising the EU deal

Rising number of young people excluded from jobs, education and training

Accountability for atrocities in Myanmar ‘cannot be expected’ within its borders – UN investigator

These countries create most of the world’s CO2 emissions

Far from a healthy Health Workforce: lack of workforce planning leaves our citizens without access to proper care

How and why Mercedes fakes the EU fuel consumption tests

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s