(CN) – Europe’s highest court hammered Hungary on Wednesday for its operation of an illegal state monopoly: a national mobile payment system that is associated, among other services, with all road tolls, public parking and public transport.
The state-owned company Nemzeti Mobilifizetesi has operated the national mobile payment system since July 1, 2014 — inspiring regulators with the European Commission to bring charges last year.
Though Hungary argued that its service is sound because it serves the general economic interest, the European Court of Justice determined Wednesday that Hungary could have taken other steps to attain the same objective.
“In particular, standardization and interoperability could have been achieved through legislation while preserving the existing market structure,” the ruling states. “Similarly, a new state-owned body could have been created, one without exclusive rights. It would also have been possible to put in place a system of concessions for the operation of the platform of the national mobile payment system at issue or to create a monopoly only for a limited period.”
The ruling out of Luxembourg came out of the Court of Justice’s Fourth Chamber.