Digital Agenda: Commission asks Court of Justice to fine Portugal over exclusion of companies from providing universal service

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The European Commission has asked the European Court of Justice to impose a fine on Portugal because it has not respected a 2010 Court judgment requiring it to follow EU telecoms rules when deciding who should provide universal service in Portugal. The Commission is suggesting a lump sum of €7 571/day and a daily penalty payment of €38 984 until the obligations are fulfilled.

Under EU law (the Universal Service Directive), basic services must be available throughout the country, including connection to the telephone network at a reasonable price, public pay telephones and emergency telephone numbers free of charge. The selection of any universal service provider must be based on an efficient, objective, transparent and non-discriminatory procedure. This means that all interested companies should be able to take part, and no company should be excluded from tendering. Despite a 2010 ruling of the EU Court of Justice (C-154/09), Portugal has still not designated its universal service provider(s) in line with EU law. Today’s decision to refer Portugal back to the Court, with a view to imposing financial penalties, follows a previous warning from the Commission in April 2011. Here to read more.

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