European Union authorities have fined Spain almost 19 million euros ($21 million) for manipulating economic statistics for one of its regions, the first penalty of its kind.

The European Council said in a statement Monday that an investigation showed "serious negligence" concerning the recording of health expenditure in the eastern region of Valencia. The body said that led to Spain's incorrect reporting of its national deficit in 2012 to Eurostat, the EU's statistical office.

It said this was the first time a fine has been imposed for data manipulation under powers brought in 2011, enabling the EU to monitor the finances of European governments. Much of the blame for the continent's recent debt crisis was placed on misreported and unreliable government accounting.