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Competition Policy

Cases & Judgments (Electronic communications)

The Directorate-General for Competition, in cooperation with National Competition Authorities, ensures that telecoms networks and services can expand and innovate by safeguarding a level playing field in IT and telecoms markets and access to them. This means applying the general EU competition rules across Antitrust, Mergers and State Aid.

The Commission cleared Vodafone’s acquisition of Liberty Global’s cable business, subject to remedies (M.8864). In July 2019, the Commission approved Vodafone’s proposed acquisition of Liberty Global’s cable business in Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Romania after an in-depth investigation. The approval was conditional upon Vodafone providing a remedy taker with access to the merged entity’s cable network in Germany, among other remedies.

The Commission unconditionally cleared T-Mobile NL’s acquisition of Tele2 NL (M.8792). Following an in-depth investigation, the Commission cleared the proposed acquisition of Tele2 NL by T-Mobile NL in the Netherlands in November 2018. The Commission’s in-depth investigation found that the acquisition would not change prices or quality of mobile services for Dutch consumers.

The Commission cleared a joint venture between Hutchinson and VimpelCom, subject to remedies (M.7758). Following an in-depth investigation, the Commission approved a proposed telecommunications joint venture between Hutchinson and VimpelCom in Italy in September 2016. The approval was conditional upon the divestment of sufficient assets (spectrum and sites) that would allow a new operator to enter the market. Subsequently, the Commission cleared Hutchinson’s acquisition of sole control over this joint venture in August 2018, which was conditional upon Hutchinson assuming full responsibility for complying with the commitments that were submitted jointly with VimpelCom (now VEON) in 2016.

Although private sector investment will often provide broadband infrastructure, State intervention may sometimes be necessary. The State aid rules provide a framework that ensures that State intervention is justified and properly targeted.

The Commission therefore monitors the awards of telecoms licences and state support for telecoms companies to ensure that:

  • support for broadband is justified;
  • support does not harm commercial broadband providers; and
  • alternative operators are not discouraged from entering the market

State aid is crucial to achieving the Commission's objective of providing broadband to all European citizens. Many public initiatives at national, regional and local level are driving the development of broadband networks, but in rural and remote regions, telecoms firms often do not offer broadband because it is not profitable. State aid can help bring broadband to these areas.

> Guidelines for applying state aid rules on rapid deployment of broadband network

> Commission decisions on state aid to broadband

> Commission decisions on state aid to audiovisual