Brussels to crack whip on budgets

The disciplinary process against Greece over its faulty past budget figures is set to begin on Wednesday, when the EU will present its final report and issue a formal warning to Athens. But Brussels will stop short of taking the case to the European Court, sources told Kathimerini yesterday. The document is expected to state that, under current accounting methods, Greece’s public deficit was above the 3 percent of GDP eurozone limit every year from 1997 to 2003. However, based on the dual system allowed at the time, Greece entered the euro justly, the report says, according to sources. But it will also analyze and criticize Greece’s failure to provide accurate data, rather than its breach of the deficit cap. The document will suggest ways of avoiding similar mistakes in the future. «The report is about what went wrong with Greek statistics. It seeks to understand the respective role of the national statistics office and Eurostat and to identify the role of the respective systems,» said Amelia Torres, Commission spokeswoman on economic and monetary affairs. Nevertheless, as part of infringement proceedings, the Commission is likely to issue a formal warning to Greece because of the poor quality of its budget data. The Greek government will have to respond to the EU’s objections, and if its answers do not satisfy the Commission, it could receive a second and final warning. Non-compliance with the union’s demands could land Greece in court, but this is considered unlikely.