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Brussels, 16th October 2006

Competition: Commission requests Greece to adopt new framework for broadcasting services

The European Commission has formally requested Greece to take the appropriate national measures regarding broadcasting services in order to comply with a Court of Justice ruling of 14th April 2005. The Court ruling confirmed that Greece had failed to transpose within the deadline the electronic communications liberalisation Directive 2002/77/EC. The Commission has asked Greece to reply before the end of December to its request, which takes the form of a ‘reasoned opinion’ under EC Treaty infringement procedures for failure to respect a Court ruling (Article 228). If Greece does not inform the Commission that it has complied with the Court ruling, the Commission may refer Greece to the Court for a second time and request the Court to impose fines on Greece (periodic penalty payments, lump sums or both - see MEMO/05/482).

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes commented, “Greece must complete the long over-due transposition of this Directive as concerns broadcasting transmission services. New competitors must be free to offer such services, and in particular digital terrestrial broadcasting”.

Commission Directive 2002/77/EC of 16 September 2002 on competition in the markets for electronic communications networks and services aims at ensuring that competitive market conditions prevail across the European Union. According to the Directive, Member States shall inform the Commission of the measures taken to comply with it, including for broadcasting transmission services, no later than 24th July 2003.

All Member States except Greece have notified the Commission of measures to transpose the Directive. On 14th February 2006, Greece notified its new law on electronic communications to the Commission. However, broadcasting transmission services are explicitly excluded from the scope of this new law. This is in contravention of Directive 2002/77/EC that extended the principle of full market liberalisation to all electronic communications services, including broadcasting services.

As Greece failed to inform the Commission that it had transposed the Directive, the Commission referred Greece to the Court of Justice and on 14th April 2005, the Court of Justice confirmed that Greece had failed to fulfil its obligation to implement the Directive. On 10 April 2006, the Commission asked Greece for information in the form a “letter of formal notice” under EC Treaty infringement procedures for failure to respect a Court ruling (Article 228). Greece replied on 26 June 2006 that a new law on media would implement the liberalisation Directive for broadcasting transmission services. However, one and a half years after the Court ruling, Greece has still not notified any implementing measures to the Commission.

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