(CN) – France did not violate community law by retroactively reducing the licensing fees paid by two French telecommunications companies, the European Court of Justice ruled.
In 2000, Franch called telecommunications companies to apply for four licenses for the introduction of a mobile and wireless communications system known as 3G.
Only two companies, Orange France SA and Societe Francaise du Radiotelephone (SFR) responded by submitting applications. France issued them licenses for 4.95 billion euros.
A third license was later issued to Bouygues Telecom, and the fourth license never materialized due to a lack of applicants.
French authorities subsequently reduced the amount owed by Orange and SFR from 4.95 billion euros to 619 million euros.
Bouygues Telecom argued that the retroactive reduction constituted state aid.
The European Commission dismissed its complaint on the basis that it lacked evidence showing how the two other applicants had obtained an advantage.
The Court of First Instance upheld the Commission’s decision.
Europe’s highest court agreed, saying France had reduced the fees to match what it charged Bouygues Telecom.