Ministers hit out at law claims

Reports that Greece is facing possible cuts in European Union funding over the incompatibility of a new law, which bans media barons from access to state contracts, with EU legislation were fiercely denied by the government yesterday. «Whatever is being said about conditions, deadlines and similar things is a distortion of reality and it is clear who is behind it and what its purpose is,» said Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos after a Cabinet meeting. Pavlopoulos was one of three Cabinet members to meet with Alexander Schaub, the internal market director-general of the European Commission on Tuesday. Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Christos Folias and Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos also represented the government at the Brussels meeting. During the talks, sources said that Schaub asked the government to supply further details about the law within two weeks. However, Pavlopoulos’s comment appears to suggest that this was not the case. Some reports yesterday also claimed that the government delegation was told that unless the law was changed, Greece would face cuts in EU structural funding. The government denied this yesterday. «It is the first time in 20 years as a journalist and politician that I am seeing such an unprecedented distortion of the truth, where black becomes white,» said Roussopoulos, speaking to a special parliamentary committee on transparency. The law, passed on January 20, aims at preventing contractors from using their media influence to force governments into awarding them the construction rights to public works. Its key article forbids anyone holding 1 percent or more in a media company from bidding for state contracts worth over a million euros. However, the Commission wrote to the government last December expressing some doubts about whether the law was compatible with EU legislation. The government has insisted that it is in line with the Union’s regulations and reiterated this position yesterday. «The European Union has heard our views and will get back to us. Just wait. We are not worried,» said Roussopoulos.

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