Greece would not have been able to join the euro if the real state of its budget deficit had been known at the time, the European Commission has confirmed. Brussels has launched infraction proceedings against Athens, and says that the Greeks’ systematic calculation problems have not disappeared;
The matter could end up in the European Court of Justice. It won’t get Greece kicked out of the single currency club though; Its euro zone partners don’t want to rub its nose in it; A new, conservative, government is in place now; The years of faulty calculation were all while the socialists were in power. But, so that it doesn’t happen again, Eurostat, which tracks each member state’s accounts, will be given more muscle, such as the right to ask national offices to show accounting details. In Greece’s case, between 1997 and 2003, Athens under-estimated military spending, for example, and the European statistical agency took its word for it. While there will be less of that, the system will still depend on cooperation between the relevant national and EU institutions — these must be politically independent and work according to European standards.