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EU Commission threatens to take the ELSTAT issue to Eurogroup and to 2nd Greek Program Review

One day after the blatant intervention of the European Commission in the legal case of former president of Greek Statistics Authority ELSTAT, Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen strikes back and threatens Greece that the Eurogroup will take up the ELSTAT issue on the September 9th meeting.

In an interview to daily TA NEA, Thyssen expressed again the Commission’s “deep concern at statements questioning the validity of the data which underpin the stability program of Greece.”

Thyssen expressed again full support for former ELSTAT president Andreas Georgiou, saying the he restored the credibility of the ELSTAT. “Credibility maintenance is crucial, of course it can be lost instantly.”

The Commissioner raised the issue of “depoliticizing the Greek Public Administration” indicating that this is a source of concern and annoyance for the European Commission.

She hinted that the wider issue will be part of the second Review of the Greek Program and that it has been already on the agenda of the next Eurogroup meeting beginning of September.

“There should be no doubt about the quality and accuracy of data upon which the Memorandum of Understanding is based,”  Thyssen told Ta NEA.

What is clear is that the European Commission will do all it can to block the persecution of the former ELSTAT president.

And reform Greece before it reforms itself….

As KTG wrote yesterday, revising  the Greek debt of 2009 would force creditors and all institutions involved to pick up the Greek debt and its bailout solutions from the beginning.

PS We, Greeks, are also deep concerned and annoyed by the insistence of the EU Commission to treat Greece like a colony and an EU protectorate. But we don’t take the issue neither to EC nor to Eurogroup. Neither do we include our disturbance to the Greek Program Review.


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  1. KTG: Greece has a history of very poor statistics, corrupt practices and fraudulent manipulation of state data. The clear evidence is that some of this was improved in 2010, with more observance of international standards. As I mentioned in a previous post, Greek accounting practices are a disgrace, and are not acceptable even now to the Commission and the rest of the developed world. Personally, I have had to tell accountants in state institutions how to prepare invoices for international use, because the Greek style is crude and open to fraud and error.
    Having made some improvement, small as it was, do you really think that the eurogroup is going to allow Greece to go back to its old bad habits and at the same time deny that it ever had a deficit? there are many things that the EU has done in recent years that is downright bad, stupid, illegal, etc. This is not one of them, and Greeks need to be very clear about it. Statisticians and economists across the EU are outraged at this nonsense, and some of them are financing the legal costs of the defendant in the political prosecution. This really is a backward Third World step that the Greek legal system is engaging in, and needs to be stopped forthwith. All power to the EU to do so.

    • Apparently you are not aware of the works of Mr. Georgiou and his prior association with the IMF and the then German director of Eurostat. Read the various reports against Mr. Georgiou from other members of the board of the Greek Statistical Agency and then you may form a more informed opinion. Regurgitating the “Saint Commission” myth does not wash with the Greeks any more. We all know now what the German dominated EU is about and which crimes they have committed against the Greek people – this is why they now kill themselves to defend their faithful employee Mr. Georgiou. They know all too well that once his criminal actions are proven and condemned in court their entire memorandum strategy aimed at stripping the assets of the country will fall apart and will, potentially, be challenged under international law. They cannot afford to have this! Ultimately, they will instruct the current pitiful prime minister to bury the issue, and he, being a faithful employee of the Troika, will do so.

      • I’m sorry, but you are cionpletely deranged. Greek courts are not competent to judge even law correctly: the very idea that they can make any legal ruling on statistical data would be hilarious other than for the fact that it is taken seriously by people like you.
        Ascribing the modernization of Greek statistical data collection to a conspiracy theory is exactly what I would expect Greek people to do, because you do this with everything. I cannot begin to count the number of absurd arguments I have had with Greek (educated) friends, about everything under the sun, where a global conspiracy is apparently the issue. When it clearly is not. Even now, I am regaled regularly by nonsense about Jews and banking conspiracies. The German conspiracy theory is just another recent version.
        No, sorry, I dealt with the Statistical Service on a regular basis in the 1990s and 2000s and I know its serious defects. You are being taken for a ride, by those who want to return to those days of data controlled by the Greek politicians.Forget it — not going to happen unless Greece exits the EU to return to Third World status.

        • keeptalkinggreece

          for sure Greek courts have not the tools & skilled personnel to find out whether Georgiou’s data were correct or not

    • The previous ELSTAT was a well respected and competent body whose statistics were accepted for 10 years before 2010. These statistics honestly reflected both the strengths and weaknesses of the Greek economy. There was no need to massage statistics. Until, that is, the IMF and EU needed to find the first EU country to pounce on to bail out the French, German and Dutch banks left as (undeclared) bankrupts by the 2008 sub-prime meltdown. That happened to be Greece…after months of George Papandreaou flying off secretly to see DSK at the IMF.

      After that it was a simple matter of propaganda about “greek statistics” [nobody questions the non-disclosure of Deutsche Bank & other banks statistics] and IMF handily replaced the old head of ELSTAT with a greek statistician working in …the IMF! Immediately after his takeover, under his new team, the statistics went higher, funnily enough justifying a new bailout, fancy that.

      This is no matter of conjecture but a case that has proceeded in steps through all the relevant courts to the highest Court of Sovereignty. The old ELSTAT team has proved their case many times over and the IMF statistician faces 10 years in jail for felony. But in our new criminal EU no doubt he will be rescued by the carpetbagging looters in power….to save themselves from exposure.

      • I do not accept this, and you are not competent to judge the quality of statistical data. I had innumerable fights with the NSSG about access issues (where they hid low quality data in larger variables) and the whole political control of the management of data. It is not a matter of “propaganda” as you put it: this is just Greek nonsense. As I keep posting here, the quality of Greek accounting even now is an utter disgrace and a large part of why there is so much corruption along with extreme mismanagement of institutions such as IKA. Nothing is being done about that, but at least the statistics are being modernised. And you want to return to the Third World mentality that the old NSSG people had? You are seriously misinformed about the situation.

        • Then what is the problem with Mr. Georgiou, if Greek statistics is so much more accurate and reliable now thanks to his contribution? His innocence will shine in court. Is there any reason for high ranking Commission officials to intervene in the court process?
          Now, the way for the third world for Greece has already been paved and pursued thanks to the German benefactors and their Troika soldiers. No need to worry on this. And, as there is no conspiracy against Greece (so you believe), why wouldn’t the Germans pay their dues to the country based on what they have stolen and destroyed between 1940 and 1944? Apparently, double standards are allowed when it comes to the sacred German EU. Greece should suffer and pay its debts, Germany – the Aryan race – should not!
          Finally, have you read the latest evaluation report on the role of the IMF in the European crisis and in Greece in particular? Incompetence and fundamental economics ignorance by its officials are the most lenient words in that report. In the meantime, the recessional assault on the Greek economy by the Troika continues as if nothing happens. But surely no conspiracy…
          Looking at what you write, I cannot help but wonder: have you ever been taught macroeconomics and, if I may ask, at what level?

          • Ianni: Greek judges are a disaster and the courts are no better. First of all, it is not the business of a court to determine statistical methodology. The idea is a very bad joke. Secondly, the whole issue is political and not legal anyway: this has to be stopped before it goes any further.

            Thirdly, this has nothing at all to do with Nazi compensation and the enforced loan of that period.
            Fourthly, the IMF’s conduct in the eurozone crisis was lamentable if not criminal; equally, the conduct of the eurogroup. Their conduct has nothing to do with statistical data sources.
            And finally, I was a junior professor of economics in a major UK university in the early 1990s before deciding to focus on political econyomy of migration. So you can stop wondering about my competence and wonder about yours.

          • The problem with Mr. Georgiou is the methods he used to calculate the central government’s deficit for 2009. summarises the case. Can you comment on what is mentioned there by Ms. Georganta and other members of the then board of ELSTAT? This is what an academic (as you say you are) should do rather than a-priori declare the Greek drama as being “conspiracy free” and Mr. Georgiou as being innocent.
            Now, I am again surprised at your dismissive attitude on whether a court can decide or not. Instead of worrying about my competence, better recite the basic principles of the justice system. Courts decide by the examination of evidence and by the use of qualified witnesses’ testimonies. This is what gives them the power to pass verdict on any aspect of human behaviour, be it medical malpractice or a crime of passion. Now regarding the competence of Greek courts, well we could arrange for a set of German judges to ensure …objectivity in this case.
            Whether you like it or not, after September 2009 there were too many vested interests in downgrading the ranking of Greece from AAA (August 2009) to Junk (February 2010) – a historically unprecedented sharp fall in the absence of a state of war. Mr. Georgiou and his mentors (the then prime minister and the minister of finance) had an important role to play there, together with the (criminally incompetent?) IMF. No conspiracy of course…

          • Ianni. You need to get your thinking sorted out. The courts have no relevance in this matter, they are not competent even in advanced countries, to address such issues. No judges are competent: even in Germany or the UK they would have to set up an expert court of judges trained in economic and financial matters. However, it is a bad idea to allow the courts any role in the economy other than supporting contractual obligations. Since the Greek courts are incapable even of doing that, perhaps they could be trained to do the more important thing which affects every business in Greece.
            Secondly, if Eurostat instructs all national stat. services to follow some basic national accounting rules in order to comply with eurozone requirements, then they have to do so. This is not within the purview of the legal system since the state has already compromised its sovereignty by joining the eurozone. There is no independent Greek economy in the eurozone: Greek politicians did not bother to explain that to anyone in 2001 or before.
            Thirdly, it is not the job of academics to put forward their personal opinions about professional issues — as most Greek professors do. It is their job to give informed analysis about situations — including explaining why things happen they way they do, especially when everyone else is in denial about reality. This is why there is no point reading this Greek conspiracy style nonsense about the statsitical service: it is just not relevant. Read the comments I have made earlier, more carefully. Greece belongs in the Third World with this mentality, partnering Turkey, Jordan, Iraq etc. Greece has committed itself to a monetary union with powerful European countries: it has to follow their rules. End of story.

          • Mr Georgiou was appointed on the 2nd August 2010.
            So if Greek Debt was reduced to Junk in February 2010 how is that the fault of Mr Georgiou ??

          • My understanding is (correct me if I am wrong) that the events with which he has been charged occurred prior to his appointment to office. I can see why if there was a mess at the Stats Office Mr Georgiou could have resigned when these problems came to light. An honourable thing for him to do. However that does not mean he can be held legally responsible for matters that occurred before he took office. Such a Court case would embarrass even Stalin.

          • Why would he resign over things that had nothing to do with him? He would see it as his job to put things right, not to accept responsibility for an existing mess. The whole thing is an incompetent joke — redolent of how Greece used to be in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and (less so) in the 1980s.

  2. This is a joke. And I thought Greece’s credibility couldn’t get any worse!

  3. Maybe we could hire the IMF accounting team. They certainly have a proven track record.

    • The problem with the IMF is not its collection and management of statistical data: it is the economic models that they use, both explicitly and implicitly. These are two totally separate issues.

      • I was being facetious. But whether you’re talking statistics or you’re talking economic modeling, there is always a certain amount of grey areas you’re working with which are open to various interpretation (some say potato, some say patato). To claim, implicitly or explicitly, that one set of criteria is “value free” is disingenuous. Now the question of whether Andrea Georgiou did something wrong is another and different question. As is the question of whether Greece has the right to pursue him legally if they deem he did. I don’t know that they do. But this cannot become a blanket acceptance of any and all interpretation of the law by Brussels. I will note on a slightly, yet related issue, that our European friends have seemed quite eager to make sure that it be considered illegal for anyone to legally contest their decisions on the bailouts as well as make sure that the people who oversee these decisions not be held legally accountable either. This caveat is in all the bailout agreements.

        • Indeed. However, the fact is that the NSSG in 2001 had almost no trained statisticians and its new director was struggling to be allowed to employ any, and was certainly prevented from dismissing any of the untrained staff. This came out of a formal interview I conducted with Karavitis. Thus, the quality of data was not high, although was improving. The standardisation of data with the rest of the EU was also a work in progress.
          The fact is that national statistical services in the EU have to work with Eurostat and maintain their support. This should not be difficult, as so many Greek trained statisticians work in Eurostat. The key player is the Director — who is politically appointed by the Greek government of the day.
          The decision was made to appoint Georgiou, and he had the support of the Greek government, the EU and Eurostat. This support continues to this day from Eurostat and also from all the professional statisticians outside Greece. There is a clear reason for this: he was appointed to do a job in a certain way and he did so. The decisions made about how to collect and interpret data in the elaboration of datasets are always based on arbitrary definitions: those definitions are likely to be political. For any subsequent Greek government to turn on the statistician after the event, and threaten him with a prison sentence for following EU rules on data collection is exactly what Erdogan is doing now in Turkey. Can you not understand that Greece does not belong in the developed world with this sort of mentality? It most certainly cannot remain in the EU if it thinks that Tsipras’ ideas on how to calculate national debt over-ride those of Eurostat.
          This is potentially another political crisis that Greece has got itself into. Nothing good can come from such stupidity. It needs to stop now, before the Greek economy and polity are completely destroyed.

  4. IMF is not a charity, they just use raw data.EU is a total disaster, really no leadership left with the departure of the UK. 2017/18, Grexit will happen, the basic numbers for Greece do not add up.Once the EU has quarantined and sanitized it’s banks from Greece, they will allow a Grexit to occur.Only way out for Greece at this point is to inflate her way out of her predicament, keep her liabilities costant and inflate her GDP.Only way for this to happen is the reintroduction of the drachma, that is generally what bank holidays do, introduce a new currency.If they allow Greece to stay in the EU, she will just become a place with hotspots for illegal migrants and not much else…so they don’t go to mainland EU.Grexit.

    • Giaourti Giaourtaki

      And why Drachma instead of no currency at all? For the rich, as the poor don’t need no currency as for the poor it makes no difference, if one has no money, one does not need any currency, only rich people will get richer by this and millions of pensioners, freaks and welfare recipients from the north will invade Greece and in a few years every Greek city close to the sea will have an Budweiser hockey club as Greece desperately needs ice to cool down these old pensioners.
      It’s up to Greece to force FYROM to open the border or to ship refugees up to Germoney, lots of young soldiers will love this humanitarian duty to open borders and this is much more easier now than after a “Grexit”, a term btw that was invented by Schaeuble and his mouthpieces in the German-Austrian Goebbels-media, so be proud to use this nonsense Kraut language for your propaganda.