Today, the European Commission decided to refer Greece to the Court of Justice of the European Union for not correctly applying the rules under the Late Payment Directive (Directive 2011/7/EU).

Late payments have negative effects on businesses, by reducing liquidity, preventing growth, hampering resilience and potentially impeding efforts to become greener and more digital. Under the current economic context, businesses and in particular SMEs, rely on regular payments to operate and invest. The Late Payment Directive obliges public authorities to pay their invoices within 30 days (or 60 days for public health authorities). By following these payment deadlines, public authorities set a good example in the fight against bad payment culture.

The Commission is referring Greece the Court of Justice due to payment practices by Greek public hospitals towards their suppliers that are in breach of the Late Payments Directive. These hospitals are not respecting the obligation to provide immediate payment of their debts when suppliers agree to waive their rights to interest, contrary to established case-law. The Commission already referred Greece to the Court of Justice in November 2023 in another Late Payment case, targeting the excessive payment delays by public hospitals in Greece (INFR(2019)2298). Late payments by public hospitals hamper the competitiveness and resilience of businesses working in the health sector, especially SMEs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these businesses played a crucial role in quickly supplying hospitals, helping them remain operational.