The European Union will step into a Greek political row over the national statistics agency on Wednesday, EU sources told Reuters, and is likely to defend the agency’s former head who is accused of falsifying data.
Andreas Georgiou, a veteran of the International Monetary Fund, stepped down a year ago 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 euro zone 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 defence 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.
One EU source said the European Commission, whose Eurostat EU statistics office has verified data provided by Greece’s Elstat agency, would make a public statement on the issue later on Wednesday.
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.
A recipient of repeated bailouts from its fellow members of the euro zone, Greece’s credibility with its European partners remains fragile. Germany and other powers are still angry at the way, as they see it, successive governments in Athens ran up unsustainable debts, masked by dubious fiscal data, triggering a crisis that nearly wrecked the entire euro project. (Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Andrew Heavens).