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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-04-27

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Commission formally asks Greece to change primary shareholder law
  • [02] Karamanlis, Australian PM Howard meet in Athens
  • [03] PM addresses IDU, says year is very crucial for western Balkans

  • [01] Commission formally asks Greece to change primary shareholder law

    The European Commission on Wednesday formally requested Greece to change a law preventing companies "interconnected" with Greek mass media businesses from participating in procedures for the award of public contracts.

    The EU's executive said its request, in the form of a "reasoned opinion", was the second stage of the infringement procedure under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. The Commission said that in the absence of a satisfactory response within three weeks, it might refer Greece to the European Court of Justice.

    An EU Commission spokesman, speaking to reporters, reminded that the Commission's reaction against Greek legislation was not something new as it referred to an older legislation, while he stressed there was no issue of non-compatibility of the Greek Constitution with Community law.

    More analytically, a Commission announcement said that "Following a letter of formal notice sent to Greece on 23 March 2005 and the reply from the Greek national authorities received on 7 April, the European Commission has decided to formally request Greece to change its law 3310/2005 which prevents companies ?interconnected? with Greek mass media businesses from participating in procedures for the award of public contracts. The Commission considers that this law breaches the Community directives on public procurement and the principal of equal treatment of the participants, as well as the exercise of almost all the fundamental freedoms acknowledged by the EC Treaty. The Commission's request takes the form of a 'reasoned opinion', the second stage of the infringement procedure under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. In the absence of a satisfactory response within three weeks, the Commission may refer Greece to the European Court of Justice".

    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

    Law 3310/2005 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 three weeks 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.d the suspension of the application of law 3310/2005 .

    The Commission said it was prepared to work together with the Greek authorities and to examine proposed solutions. Francois Le Bail, a spokeswoman for the Commission president , speaking to reporters said the EU executive wanted Greece to amend its primary shareholder law.

    [02] Karamanlis, Australian PM Howard meet in Athens

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday met with visiting Australian Premier John Howard, as talks focused on bilateral relations, the situation in the wider region as well as the issue of transferring pension rights of Greek-Australians.

    Howard expressed his support for Athens' positions regarding Turkey's European prospects, a solution to the long-standing Cyprus issue and over the FYROM "name issue".

    On his part, Karamanlis underlined the very close relations enjoyed by the two long-time allies, noting Greece's pride with the status and contributions of the tens of thousands of ethnic Greeks that call Australia home. The Greek prime minister also cited the common struggles of the two countries during the Second World War, emphasising Athens' reverence for the Australian soldiers that fell on Greek soil in the cause of freedom and democracy.

    Karamanlis also stressed that there is room for improvement in bilateral relations, particularly in terms of trade and tourism, while he referred to serious political volition to resolve the pension rights transfer issue.

    Howard repeated his government's position of a "generous" offer to eligible beneficiaries, while noting that one of the problems lies in the fact that payments will flow only in one direction, namely, from Australia to Greece.

    Finally, Howard praised Athens' hosting of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games, adding that the Australian side hopes that the 2008 Beijing Olympics will be as successful as the Athens and Sydney Games.

    Earlier, the Australian premier was received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.

    [03] PM addresses IDU, says year is very crucial for western Balkans

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, addressing the meeting of the International Democratic Union (IDU) on Wednesday, emphasised that "this year is very crucial for the western Balkans."

    Karamanlis stressed that Greece supports the European prospects of the countries in the western Balkans, as well as the participation of political parties in such organisations as the IDU, to the degree that there is respect for principles and European models.

    The prime minister said the western Balkans are one of the most sensitive regions on the international scene and the time has come for them to be transformed from a field of national tensions and upheavals into a modern European neighbourhood.

    Intransigence and prejudice are completely incompatible with the spirit and rules of good neighbourly relations, cooperation, mutually acceptable solutions and a state of law which are being promoted by the European Union and the international community, he said.

    Karamanlis also referred to "the great scourge of our times - terrorism" and underlined that wherever democracy takes roots terrorism is unable to flourish because its main elements are contrary to the principles of a free democratic state, which are tolerance and respect for different ideas and cultures.

    He further said terrorism and organised crime have a global field of action today, which makes cooperation at international level absolutely necessary so that they can be handled in a coordinated and effective way.

    Karamanlis also referred to the IDU's aims and actions, saying that in its capacity as an internationally strong political union it has responsibility for the promotion of freedom, democracy, justice and prosperity in the world.


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