Amadeu Altafaj, the spokesman for European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn, on Tuesday said that the upward revision of Greece's deficit for 2010 was the result of a change in Eurostat's rules for calculating member-state public deficit figures.
Pointing to similar upward revisions for several eurozone countries, Altafaj also noted that for the first time after many years Eurostat had last November and then again on Tuesday confirmed the figures given by the Greek statistical authority.
Asked how the increase in the public deficit figure would affect Greece's fiscal policy for 2011, Altafaj said that this would be addressed in the spring economic forecasts released by the European Commission in May.
He underlined the Commission's absolute confidence in the Greek government's determination to implement the "ambitious" and "balanced" economic programme presented on April 15, in which the Greek government pledged spending cuts amounting to three billion euro during 2011 and 26 billion euro by 2015, combined with a 50 billion euro privatisation programme.
The spokesman was fairly optimistic concerning the impact of the programme and said that the social cost for Greece would have been much greater if the measures had not been taken.
Altafaj noted that the programme had already had an immediate positive impact on a social level, such as by reducing prices for medication, and was expected to increase the competitiveness of the Greek economy in the medium term, with the latest Eurostat figures pointing to a gradual levelling-off in the Greek recession.
Finally, he denied any plans by Rehn to visit Athens in the coming weeks.