29 October, 2005
The new primary shareholder bill prepared by the New Democracy government complies with European Union legislation and has the European Commission's approval, a spokesman for European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services Charlie McCreevy said on Thursday.
In comments he made to the ANA, Oliver Drews said that after the Commission reviewed the bill and following close cooperation with Greek authorities, the Commission deemed it to be in line with EU laws.
According to Drews, an official statement by the Commission that it has agreed to the bill is expected next week.
The bill, which overrides previous laws, aims to limit the rights of owners of mass media enterprises to take on public-sector contracts. The measures were designed to prevent the media from exerting undue influence on the award of state contracts and also extended to the next of kin of people owning up to 1 per cent of a media enterprise.
The current law (3310/2005) and the previous primary shareholder law 3021 passed by PASOK in 2002, were judged by the Commission to be incompatible with fundamental European directives and treaties.
As a result, both laws have been suspended.
Government Statement: The Greek government on Thursday received an approval of the primary shareholder bill in writing from the European Commission, according to a statement issued by Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos.
Agreement was achieved after months of negotiations between the Greek government and the Commission, Roussopoulos stated.
The bill implements article 14, clause 9 of the Greek constitution while at the same time safeguards the observance of EU law, the minister said.
"The constitutional provision imposing incompatible status between companies participating in public bids and mass media is implemented in the sense that it forbids the exercise of dishonest influence on the assigning public authorities," he said.
According to the new bill, incompatibility is not automatically assumed but must be proven in the event of dishonest influence.
"The penalties foreseen in the case of a judicial decision are strict and may reach life imprisonment. The main shareholder is defined by 1%," Roussopoulos said.
The bill will soon be tabled in Parliament, he concluded.
Source: Athens News Agency