Richard North, 07/12/2004  

The Greeks need not feel alone. It seems the Italians cheated on their entry credentials to the euro as well. Apparently, it was not simply a question of hiding state pensions or rapidly selling off stocks to the lowest bidder, but actual misreporting on the budget.

According to the Dow Jones Newswires, the Commission has noticed that the deficit figures reported by the Italian government were between 0.3 and 1.7 per cent lower than the actual figures every year since 1997. This included the period of Italy’s – and other countries’ - self-grooming for the euro.

The Italian government maintains that the discrepancy is merely a statistical one. They always are. The Commission thinks otherwise. Sternly, it has announced:
“The magnitude of the inconsistency has reached levels with are difficult to justify as mere statistical discrepancies.”
And they did not even have the Olympic Games.

Still, nothing will be done. EU finance ministers have agreed to postpone discussions on individual countries’ deficits until January next year.

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