Belgium slapped with daily €5,000 fine over delays in high-speed internet roll-out

Belgium slapped with daily €5,000 fine over delays in high-speed internet roll-out
Belgium was ordered to pay a daily thousand-euro fine over the delays of regional authorities in Brussels to adopt measures for a more cost-efficient deployment of high-speed internet. Credit: Pixabay

Belgium must pay an unprecedented daily fine of €5,000 for every day the Brussels-Capital Region fails to comply with a European Union directive aiming to ensure better access to high-speed internet at a lower cost, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled Monday.

Originally faced with a fine of €54,639 —an amount later brought down by the European Commission to €6,071—Belgium was finally slapped with a €5,000 fine after the Court upheld the Commission's findings that the "shortcomings persisted solely in the Brussels-Capital Region."

The European Commission in 2017 initiated proceedings against Belgium, Croatia and Slovakia, after the three countries failed to meet a 2016 deadline to transpose a 2014 directive into national legislation.

The directive required Belgium to adopt a series of rules meant to bring down the costs of rolling out high-speed internet connections by 30%, such as reusing existing public and private infrastructure to avoid expensive road works or duplicate infrastructure.

The implementation of the directive's rules in Brussels is reportedly being bogged down by a jurisdictional problem, as regional authorities "refuse to amend the legislation," since they argue that doing so falls under the competence of federal authorities, according to Bruzz.

The ruling ordered Belgium to pay the thousand-euro fine for every day it failed to implement the provisions from the day of the ruling, marking the first time a financial sanction is imposed so soon after a ruling by the Court.

The Brussels Times

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