On 9 September 2020, Greek member of the European Parliament (MEP) Stelios Kouloglou of The Left group in the European Parliament – GUE/NGL posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“The Greek Minister of Development, Adonis Georgiadis, has cancelled a fine of EUR 100 000 imposed by the Consumer Protection Directorate of his own ministry on an insurance company following a complaint from a customer about unjustified increases in insurance premiums.
According to documents brought to light, the Minister of Development accepted the appeal of the insurance company on 28 July 2020 and annulled the decision.
In its initial decision the Ministry’s Consumer Protection Directorate stated that it had taken into account ‘the need to protect consumers’ and had judged the insurance premium increases to be abusive.
Mr Georgiadis reversed the decision without offering any justification or consulting the Consumer Protection Directorate. These actions can be considered a breach of the EU Consumer Protection Directive and of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union which recognises corruption as a ‘euro-crime’, listing it among the particularly serious crimes with a cross-border dimension.
In light of the above, how will the Commission:
1. Monitor and ensure the implementation of the national consumer rules of the Consumer Protection Directive?
2. Uphold its anti-corruption stance by ensuring a common high standard of legislation either specifically on corruption or by incorporating anti-corruption elements into other sectoral legislation?”
On 29 January 2021, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The Commission does not have direct enforcement powers in the field of consumer protection. It is for Member States’ competent authorities, including national courts, to apply and implement consumer protection laws, including those stemming from EU Directives and Regulations.
Citizens should therefore pursue this matter before national courts who have the power to review administrative decisions and, where appropriate, to order compensation for individuals who have suffered losses due to a breach of EC law. The Commission is not competent to intervene in individual cases.
Where the Commission obtains evidence that a Member State systematically fails to fulfil its obligations under the Treaties, including its obligation to effectively implement EC law, the Commission may initiate infringement procedures. The Commission however does not have evidence of such systematic failure by the Greek authorities in the present case.
To ensure a common high standard of legislation, the Commission has put in place a framework to implement effective anti-corruption policies in the EU. The recently adopted report on the Rule of Law assesses the justice system, anti-corruption framework, media pluralism and freedom, and other institutional issues linked to checks and balances in each Member State.
The Commission addresses anti-corruption matters also in the context of the European Semester and its country specific recommendations.
Further, the EU legislation in areas such as anti-money laundering and public procurement include important anti-corruption provisions. The setting up of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office also demonstrates determination to fight corruption in the implementation of EU funds.”
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/illustrations/no-corruption-stop-corruption-4650589/