Is the EU meddling in the Athens statistics scandal?
The former chief of the Greek national statistics authority, Andreas Georgiou, is on trial in Athens, charged with having tweaked budget data that were relevant for calculating the Greek bailout packages. The European Commission issued a statement backing Georgiou on Wednesday. Some commentators are incensed over what they see as interference by Brussels in Greek domestic affairs. Others warn against sparking further tensions between Greece and the EU.
Greece not a banana republic
The EU Commission is interfering in Greece's domestic affairs with its statement, Efimerida ton Syntakton rails:
“This is blatant intervention with an indirect but clear demand that the case be dropped and [statistician] Georgiou declared innocent. … It's obvious that the European Commissioners are putting one of their colleagues above the country and its democratic constitution, because the Greek statistics authority Elstat is directly connected to the Commission via Eurostat. In this context they see Greece as a banana republic and are treating it accordingly. So Finance Minister Tsakalotos' reaction was right on the mark when he said that if the Commission is in possession of 'scientific findings that could determine the outcome of the trial it has a moral obligation to hand them over to the Greek judiciary to make the latter's task easier.'”
Fuel for conflict between Athens and Brussels
Protagon warns that relations between Athens and Brussels may cool even further in the conflict over the former Greek statistics chief:
“Brussels doesn't like the course the Andreas Georgiou case is taking, and this could influence the Greek government's talks with the [creditor] institutions. Athens may decide to play the role of Pontius Pilate and act as if Brussels' official stance has no impact on the Georgiou case. But Athens can't avoid the yellow card from Brussels. … The latest developments in the Georgiou case could even block the assessment of the Greek austerity programme [this autumn] and put additional strain on relations between Athens and Brussels.”