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IP/05/855

Brussels, 6 July 2005

Public procurement: Commission acts on Greek legislation excluding certain companies from public contracts

The European Commission has decided to ask Greece for its observations on the compatibility with EU law of Greek national law (3021/2002) preventing companies “interconnected” with Greek mass media businesses from obtaining public contracts. The Commission’s request takes the form of a letter of formal notice, the first stage of the infringement procedure under Article 226 of the EC Treaty.

EU public procurement law aims to ensure that all European companies have a fair chance to bid for public contracts. Open and transparent tendering procedures mean more competition, stronger safeguards against corruption, better service and value for money for taxpayers and, ultimately, a more competitive Europe. EU public procurement markets are worth over €1 500 billion, more than 16% of total EU GDP. The existing EU public procurement Directives have increased cross-border competition in procurement markets and reduced by around 30% the prices paid by public authorities for goods and services, according to a European Commission working document (see IP/04/149).

Greece – law 3021/2002 on the mass media

After the suspension of law 3310/2005 on the same subject (see IP/05/356, IP/05/492), the previously existing law (3021/2002) came back into force in Greece. The Commission has sent a letter of formal notice asking the Greek Government for its observations on the compatibility with Community law of the national provisions banning the award of public contracts to companies “interconnected” with Greek mass media companies.

Law 3021/2002, implementing Article 14(9) of the Greek Constitution, prevents companies interconnected with Greek mass media businesses from participating in public procurement proceedings. The Commission considers that this is contrary to secondary Community law (the Directives on public procurement), in that it lays down exclusion criteria that are not provided for in the Directives, and does not respect the equal treatment of participants. It is also contrary to primary Community law (the EC Treaty), in that it lays down measures that impede, or render less attractive, the exercise of almost all the fundamental freedoms acknowledged by the EC Treaty.

Given that the law in question is already producing its effects, the Commission has given the Greek Government 15 days to reply and reserves the right to ask the Court, if it brings the matter before it, to lay down the requisite interim measures, i.e. the suspension of the application of law 3021/2002.

Following the Commission decision, the Greek authorities have communicated new information to the Commission services, showing that concrete measures are being taken by the Greek government to ensure that the law in question will not produce any effects. The Commission services are in the process of analysing these communications, which will have a bearing on the further development of the procedure in question.

For further details on European public procurement policy and infringement procedures under way, see:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/publicprocurement/index_en.htm

The latest information on infringement proceedings concerning all Member States is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/secretariat_general/sgb/droit_com/index_en.htm


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