Tender bill ‘does not break EU rules’

The government was forced yesterday to defend its key legislative drive to bar media barons from access to state contracts after a European Commission letter critical of the draft law was leaked to the press yesterday. The publication of the Brussels missive drew new noises of dissent from a senior cabinet member, Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias, who openly attacked the bill – and other banner government policies – last week, angering top officials in the ruling New Democracy party. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos insisted that the draft law, which was tabled in Parliament on December 20, was legally watertight and added that the Commission letter had been drafted by someone unfamiliar with the text of the bill. «The government has taken full action to ensure that the new law will implement the Greek Constitution, first of all, and will also be compatible with [EU legislation],» he said. «The letter was sent three days before the draft law was tabled in Parliament,» Roussopoulos added. «It is obvious that whoever drafted the letter is not familiar with the contents of the bill.» The letter expressed fears that the bill might conflict with EU legislation. The bill, the spearhead of the government’s anti-corruption campaign, is intended to prevent media barons from using their influence to land lucrative state tenders. A source close to Souflias said yesterday that the minister had expressed open reservations on the draft law during an inner cabinet meeting.