EU takes Greece to court on investment restrictions

The European Commission said on Wednesday it was taking Greece to the EU’s top court for keeping restrictions on investments in strategic companies at a time when the local economy is shrinking at a record pace.

In its monthly package of infringement decisions, Brussels singled out Greece for two laws that limit investors from owning more than 20 percent of shares of specific companies deemed ‘strategic.’

Only the government may exceed this threshold, unless prior approval is granted.

The commission also takes note of a provision that states that some important corporate decisions, including specific management matters, require the Greek Finance Ministry’s approval.

“The commission considers that both authorization schemes impose disproportionate restrictions on potential investors,» the commission said in a statement.

“This situation gives the administrative authorities an excessive margin of discretion, which, in the commission’s view, breaches EU law on the free movement of capital.”

Data from the Hellenic Statistical Authority released on Tuesday showed that Greece’s 230-billiion euro economy shrank at an annual rate of 6.6 percent, the steepest contraction rate since 1974.

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