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State Aid

State aid: Investigation opened into potential state aid granted through a lease of an optical fibre in Iceland



Today, the EFTA Surveillance Authority decided to open an in-depth investigation into potential aid granted by the Icelandic authorities through a lease of an optical fibre previously operated on behalf of NATO.

In April 2008, the Icelandic State Trading Centre organised a tender for the use and operation of two optical fibres out of the three fibres previously reserved for defense purposes. The purpose of the tender was to lower the State's maintenance and operating costs of the optical fibres, increase public broadband access and encourage competition in data transmission. In February 2010, a contract with Vodafone Iceland was concluded on the basis of the tender for the use of one of the fibres.

The Authority began looking into this matter in 2010 following a complaint by an interested party. In 2012, following a preliminary examination of the case, a decision was adopted concluding that the lease, which was awarded following an open and well-publicised tender procedure, did not involve state aid. The decision was challenged before the EFTA Court and by its judgement from January 2014, in Case E-1/13, the Authority's decision was annulled.

The Authority has now preliminarily concluded that the lease with Vodafone may involve state aid. The Authority is concerned whether the tender procedure ensured that the payment for the lease was at market price. As any possible public support is liable to distort competition and trade it would amount to state aid if this is found to be correct.

The decision to open a formal investigation procedure is without prejudice to the final decision of the Authority. The Authority will now call for further comments from the Icelandic authorities and third parties with an interest in the case.

A non-confidential version of the Authority's decision to open the formal investigation will shortly be published on the Authority's website and in the Official Journal of the European Union.


For further information, please contact:

Mr. Andreas Kjeldsberg Pihl
Press & Information Officer
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 66
mob. (+32)(0)492 900 187


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