European EC could be in hot water for its ‘go slow’ on Bouygues complaint

14 Jun 2004

The European Commission’s (EC’s) failure to resolve a complaint from Bouygues Telecom dating back to October 2002 and concerning issues such as a reduction in the price of UMTS concessions in France – which it argues constitutes state aid for rivals Orange and SFR – could land the commission in hot water with the EU Judiciary. On 21 February this year Bouygues lodged a second petition arguing that the EC was not handling the case quickly enough, and reiterated the point that reducing the cost of UMTS licences for its rivals from EUR4.95 billion to EUR619 million could not be justified by the government and as such was illegal. The EC says it is still investigating a separate matter concerning allegations of ‘state aid’ that was given to France Télécom, but Bouygues’ filing threatens to further open up the rift between the EC and Paris.