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No 5 (October 96/Octobre 96/Oktober 96)
A decision to send Belgium a "reasoned opinion" (the second stage of formal infringement proceedings under Article 169 of the EC Treaty) has been adopted by the Commission. The Belgian authorities must inform the Commission, within 40 working days of receiving the letter, that they have removed a measure requiring that at least 51% of the capital of a private company broadcasting television to the whole of the Flemish Community, should be reserved for publishers of Dutch-speaking daily and weekly newspapers and magazines. The Commission considers that this measure is a violation of EC Treaty rules which prohibit unjustified restrictions on the freedom of establishment (Article 52).
The measure in question is restrictive in the Commission's view because it is unlikely that a publisher of Dutch-speaking dailies and weeklies would be established other than in Belgium or the Netherlands. In other words, companies based in other Member States face restrictions if they wish to establish themselves as television broadcasters in Belgium. The Commission accepts the promotion of language and culture to be a valid general interest objective. However, the majority share-holding requirement does not appear to be appropriate to the objective of promoting Dutch language and culture.
In the absence of a satisfactory response to the reasoned opinion within the 40 working day deadline, the Commission may refer the case to the Court of Justice.
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