Nine European countries have been warned by the European Commission and instructed to open up their national gaming monopolies, yet none were taken to task during the Commission’s last infringement meeting. There are plenty or rumors but no straight answers regarding this delay in corrective action.

Since 2007, these countries had been reprimanded by the European Commission regarding their protectionist State-owned gaming monopolies, and 5 of them have already reached the final stage: France, Hungary, Denmark, Finland and

This is the odd part: the European Commission should have discussed the possibility of taking these 5 countries to the ECJ during the recent June 26 infringement meeting; and they were even prodded before the meeting with an open letter by Parliament delegates from the Czech Republic, Germany, Malta, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Yet they decided to postpone the discussion until the next infringement meeting in September.

Procedures against some of the offending countries are already overdue: on April of this year EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy was vocal about how these countries would be EU’s trade policies: "We have a dialogue going on with some member states… but for those where we cannot reach agreement we will proceed to the European Court of justice. It's inevitable that some cases will be heard before the ECJ."

Nothing more was heard of the matter since then, and worried parties from several EU countries saw it fit to write an open letter to Commissioner Charlie McCreevy and Commission President José Manuel Barroso voicing their shared concern that several of the questioned countries were not taking any action towards dissolving their monopolies, but rather just stalling and diverting the EU. In spite of this the subject was not broached in the infringement meeting – it was dropped from the agenda altogether.

A spokesman from Commissioner McCreevy said that the referral of these cases to the ECJ was postponed until the next infringement meeting, with an agenda yet to be set. One of the subscribers to the open letter, Christofer Fjellner MEP, could only point towards gossip and rumor in lack of an official explanation: "Everything from the legal services believing that the cases were not ready, to President Barroso stopping it due to the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, and in the case of Sweden, awaiting the results of the investigation that will be published in December."

To make matters worse, the presidency of the EU is about to move to France, a country with a clear interest in maintaining its gaming monopoly. This means that these issues may not be heard properly until the end of this year.
 

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