A blog from Greece can’t go by without a comment on the current scrap (one of many) with the EU over the Media Bill this time. It reminds me of the discussions in Ukraine 10 years ago. We would discuss a problem in the construction industry. I would propose the usual western solution. The people I worked with would explain how this would actually work in Ukraine under the prevailing conditions. Then we would come to the conclusion that the western solution would probably achieve the exact opposite effect to that intended, and a completely different solution was needed in Ukraine at least for the short term. Of course, this was all part of “you don’t understand Ukrainian conditions” and “we want to manipulate things in the way we understand, not with any of your fancy foreign ways, which we don’t understand” which prevailed at the time.
But back to Greece in the 21st century with decades of EU membership. The problem is that media owners have been regularly manipulating government tenders for construction contracts to their advantage. Don’t just consider the Olympic bonanza, but all the new transport infrastructure projects just announced by the government. So what would the government like to do? Ban all media companies for tendering from public construction contracts.
Leaving aside all the EU legislation that this contradicts, just imagine applying this to Italy and Berlusconi. Or in Britain where the press used to be controlled by the Conservative Party.
Luckily the EU is having none of it, pointing out that the real problem with media influence in the awarding of government contracts is the corrupt politicians influencing tender commissions. If politicians kept their noses out, and tender commissions operated objectively, then media companies would have no influence. So the media companies (and even their distant relations excluded through the famous “entangled interests” clauses) must be laughing up their sleeves.
So the government will have to rewrite the Law, despite claiming that the Greek Constitution over-ruled EU legislation. Greece, where have you been since you joined the EU? And just to make sure there is no mistake about the seriousness of the EU intentions, the EU says that payments from the Structural and Cohesion Funds will be delayed (ie lost) until the situation is brought into line with EU requirements. Yet another way in which Greece shoots itself in the foot in receiving aid, from which it can only lose again in competition with the new Member States.