Eurozone EntrySee also: Greek Financial Audit, 2004
Greece was accepted into the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union by the European Council on 19 June 2000, based on a number of criteria (inflation rate, budget deficit, public debt, long-term interest rates, exchange rate) using 1999 as the reference year. After an audit commissioned by the incoming New Democracy government in 2004, Eurostat revealed that the statistics for the budget deficit had been under-reported.
Most of the differences in the revised budget deficit numbers were due to a temporary change of accounting practices by the new government, i.e., recording expenses when military material was ordered rather than received. However, it was the retroactive application of ESA95 methodology (applied since 2000) by Eurostat, that finally raised the reference year (1999) budget deficit to 3.38% of GDP, thus exceeding the 3% limit. This led to claims that Greece (similar claims have been made about other European countries like Italy) had not actually met all five accession criteria, and the common perception that Greece entered the Eurozone through "falsified" deficit numbers.
In the 2005 OECD report for Greece, it was clearly stated that “the impact of new accounting rules on the fiscal figures for the years 1997 to 1999 ranged from 0.7 to 1 percentage point of GDP; this retroactive change of methodology was responsible for the revised deficit exceeding 3% in 1999, the year of EMU membership qualification”. The above led the Greek minister of finance to clarify that the 1999 budget deficit was below the prescribed 3% limit when calculated with the ESA79 methodology in force at the time of Greece's application, and thus the criteria had been met.
The original accounting practice for military expenses was later restored in line with Eurostat recommendations, theoretically lowering even the ESA95-calculated 1999 Greek budget deficit to below 3% (an official Eurostat calculation is still pending for 1999).
An error very frequently made in press reports is the confusion of the discussion regarding Greece’s Eurozone entry with the controversy regarding usage of derivatives’ deals with U.S. Banks by Greece and other Eurozone countries to artificially reduce their reported budget deficits. A currency swap arranged with Goldman Sachs allowed Greece to “hide” $1 billion of debt, however, this affected deficit values after 2001 (when Greece had already been admitted into the Eurozone) and is not related to Greece’s Eurozone entry.
A study by forensic accountants has found that data submitted by Greece to Eurostat had a statistical distribution indicative of manipulation.
Other articles related to "eurozone entry, eurozone":
... have been below 3% of GDP was one the key criteria for Eurozone entry thus, its revision to 3.38% led to a controversy about Greece's admission ... and thus, since the remaining criteria had also been met, was properly accepted into the Eurozone ... ESA79 was also the methodology employed to calculate the deficits of all other Eurozone members at the time of their applications ...
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