The European Union’s Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen said on Wednesday the Greek statistics office did not manipulate data on the country’s debt in 2010-2015 and that she had sent a letter to Athens asking it to refute any such suggestions.
Thyssen, who oversees the Eurostat EU statistics office, said she has sent the joint letter with the EU’s economics commissioners Valdis Dombrovskis and Pierre Moscovici.
“For the Commission and Eurostat it is absolutely clear that data on Greek Government debt during 2010-2015 have been fully reliable and accurately reported to Eurostat,” she said.
Andreas Georgiou, a veteran of the International Monetary Fund, stepped down a year ago from the helm of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) under a cloud after being charged in 2013 with inflating figures on the Greek budget deficit in 2009 in a way that made bailout conditions imposed on Athens by eurozone creditors more onerous than they might have been.
His case has seen fellow senior economists and statisticians from around the world rally behind him. Some are helping to pay for his defense costs.
The case had appeared to be languishing but a move at the Supreme Court earlier this month to reopen it has put Georgiou under renewed pressure.
Brussels has been broadly supportive of ELSTAT in the past in the face of criticism of the agency's work by various Greek politicians across the party spectrum. The EU executive is generally reluctant to step into domestic political rows, making any public stance in the Greece legal dispute significant.