Brussels, 18th October 2007
State aid: Commission closes infringement procedure against Slovenia following full implementation of Financial Transparency Directive
The European Commission has decided to close the infringement procedure against Slovenia (see IP/07/401) for its failure to implement the Commission Directive on the transparency of financial relations between Member States and public undertakings (Directive 80/723/EEC and its three amending Directives 85/413/EEC, 93/84/EEC and 2000/52/EC). The decision of the Commission follows the adoption by Slovenia on 1 June 2007 of legislation implementing in full the Transparency Directive.
Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes commented: "The Commission must have access to the information necessary to verify that public undertakings do not get an unfair advantage through public funds. It is also clearly in the interest of European citizens and taxpayers that public money is used to provide public services, rather than being diverted to subsidise commercial activities. I therefore welcome the steps taken by Slovenia to comply with its financial transparency obligations".
Commission Directive 80/723/EEC imposes a general transparency obligation on financial relations between public authorities and public undertakings. The Directive as amended in 1985 (85/413/EEC) and 1993 (93/84/EEC) also requires Member States to collect and submit to the Commission, upon request, certain financial data concerning large public undertakings active in the manufacturing sector.
Commission Directive 2000/52/EC extended the transparency requirements to cover the obligation of maintaining separate accounts for public and private companies which, on the one hand, operate services of general economic interest or are entrusted with special or exclusive rights and, on the other hand, also carry out commercial activities. The Transparency Directive thus provides the Commission with the necessary tools to investigate alleged over-compensation of public service obligations as well as cross-subsidisation of commercial activities.
Commission Directive 2006/111/EC of 16 November 2006 codified and replaced the original Transparency Directive and its amendments, including the amendment of 2005, as of its entry into force on 20 December 2006. This is however without prejudice to the obligation of Member States relating to the time-limits to implement the above mentioned Directives into national law.
New Member States were required to implement the original Transparency Directive and its three amendments as of the date of accession to the European Union. For Slovenia, this was on 1 May 2004. However, Slovenia had failed, in particular, to implement in time the transparency obligations applicable to the financial relations between public authorities and public undertakings as well as the obligation to keep separate accounts. The Commission had previously asked Slovenia to comply with the Directive through a letter of formal notice of 10 April 2006 (the first step in infringement procedures under Article 226 of the EC Treaty), followed on 23 March 2007 by a reasoned opinion (the second step in infringement proceedings). However, Articles 1, 3 and 5 of the Act adopted on 1 June 2007 remove the earlier inconsistencies and fully transpose the Transparency Directive into Slovenian law.