The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €2.5 million compensation granted by Slovenia to the Slovenian Press Agency STA to fulfill its public service mission, the Commission reported on its web site.
“The public funding will contribute to the independent news provision to the Slovenian public without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market,” according to the EC.
Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, was quoted as saying that “today’s decision will enable the Slovenian Press Agency STA to continue deliver its important public service.”
“The preservation of an independent national press agency in a Member State ensures that news media can refer to a news stream which reports on national and international developments, from the perspective of that country. This contributes to the plurality of media and information sources throughout the EU,” she underscored.
In January 2021, Slovenia notified the Commission of its plan to compensate the Slovenian Press Agency STA with €2.5million for carrying out its activities of informing the Slovenian public about national and international news in 2021.
The Commission assessed the measure under the EU State aid rules on public service compensation, and in particular under the 2011 SGEI Decision. According to these rules, Member States can grant State aid to companies to compensate them for the extra cost of providing a public service mission, subject to certain criteria, like the avoidance of overcompensation.
The Commission found that the operation of STA meets Slovenia’s genuine public interest to rely on the services of an independent news agency based in the country and reporting in its language, which covers national news and which reports on international developments, from the perspective of Slovenia.
Therefore, STA performs a service of general economic interest, which it could not provide for its national market to the desired extent by its own means and revenues. The funding is limited to what is needed to perform STA’s public service tasks, which it has to offer free of charge. An annual external and independent audit is ensuring the supervision of these conditions.