Today's decision to refer Portugal back to the Court, with a view to imposing financial penalties, follows a previous Court referral decision from the Commission in March 2012. The Commission has taken into account the progress made by the Portuguese authorities since then, in particular through the publication of invitations to tender, and has therefore proposed a reduced lump sum. Under EU law (the Universal Service Directive), basic services must be available throughout the country, including connection to the telephone network at a reasonable price, public pay telephones and emergency telephone numbers free of charge. The selection of any universal service provider must be based on an efficient, objective, transparent and non-discriminatory procedure. This means that all interested companies should be able to take part in the designation procedure, and no company should be excluded from tendering.
Despite a 2010 ruling of the EU Court of Justice, Portugal has still not designated its universal service provider(s) in line with EU law. (ANSAmed)