BRUSSELS, March 12 (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Thursday it had opened an in-depth investigation into whether Hungary’s advertisement tax introduced last year complies with EU state aid rules.
Hungary introduced a progressive tax for each company based on turnover derived from advertisement activities - 1 percent or zero for small- and medium-sized turnover and between 10 and 50 percent for those with higher advertisement turnover.
The Commission has to determine whether such a tax selectively favours certain companies over their competitors.
“It is very important that we ensure a level playing field on media markets throughout Europe. Many media today rely on advertisement income to finance their operations,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
She added that she welcomed signals from the Hungarian government that it intended to make changes to the advertisement tax.
The Commission has also taken a separate decision prohibiting Hungary from applying progressive rates until the Commission has finished its assessment. (Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop)