EC threatens FT with legal action

9 Apr 2003

The European Commission has threatened France Telecom (FT) [FTE.PA] with legal action in the European Court of Justice if it does not repay millions of euros it received from privately-owned rivals to rollout telecoms services to rural areas of the country. According to the EC, the method of calculation used by FT to assess the amount needed to provide universal service was ‘opaque’, leading to an over calculation. The figure outstanding is believed to be between EUR11 and EUR50 million. Meanwhile the Brussels authority is investigating whether FT’s EUR9 billion line of credit provided by the government breaches European state aid law, while Wanadoo, FT’s internet service provider, is also being probed amid suspicions that it broke antitrust laws. Concern has also been expressed over the amount of bureaucracy French cable operators must deal with, leading to them operating at a disadvantage.