2/25/10 – The recently appointed head of the European Commission, Michel Barnier, appears to have hit the right note in his recent address to the European Parliament on free movement of goods and services across member nations and the need for harmonised regulation.
His approach certainly seems to have resonated with the European Gaming and Betting Association, which this week issued a statement applauding the new incumbent. The Association is an influential body, being comprised of most of the major European companies involved in Internet gambling.
In its statement, EGBA welcomes the commitment made by Barnier to address the situation of gaming and betting at EU level.
The statement notes Barnier's comments regarding the analysis of the Commission Legal Service regarding the most recent European Court of Justice ruling (Santa Casa, C-42/09) and its conclusion that this does not change fundamentally the Commission’s approach towards infringement procedures.
The Commissioner said that the Santa Casa ruling of 8 September 2009 was based on considerations specific to Portugal and to its national monopoly operator. The Commission will therefore continue to examine the compliance of national legalization with EU law on a case-by-case basis.
Sigrid Ligné, secretary general of EGBA, said: “With several Member States currently reforming their gaming and betting legalization, this is an important confirmation that the Commission will not stand by while Member States introduce restrictions that go against fundamental principles of the EU”.
She added, “We believe that the respect of Internal Market rules in our sector will promote high standards and improve the protection of players throughout the EU”.
EGBA also strongly supported Barnier's intention to engage in a broad consultation with stakeholders and to work on a political document, based on reliable figures and a clear diagnosis of the situation in Europe. The Commissioner raised the prospect of a Green Paper on gambling, a move which EGBA believes could offer a real opportunity to test the interest and support of the European Parliament and Member States for future EU harmonisation in the sector.