EU court rules Portugal in breach of telecoms law

THE EUROPEAN Union’s highest court has ruled that Portugal broke EU telecoms laws by granting Portugal Telecom free access to public infrastructure.

The European Court of Justice stated that Portugal’s fixed-line telephone business must be treated the same as other telecoms operators. In 2002, the European Commission, which overseas EU telecoms rules, demanded that Portugal change the law that gives the state owned former telephone monopoly free access while charging competitors. Portugal refused, arguing that because of its public service obligation to develop and maintain the country’s basic telecommunications infrastructure, it should be allowed to be exempt from the regulations.

If Portugal fails to adhere to the EU court’s ruling, a stiff fine could be imposed by the commission if the government continues to refuse to introduce legislation in line with EU monopoly and fair competition standards.