Belgium hit with 5,000 euro daily fine for fast-speed broadband delays

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium was hit with a 5000-euro ($5,613) daily fine from Europe’s top court on Monday for its slowness in rolling out fast-speed broadband in its capital, home to EU institutions such as the European Commission and European Parliament.

The judgment from the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) came after the European Commission sued Belgium two years ago for failing to transpose into national law a 2014 EU directive aimed at encouraging the development of broadband across the bloc.

The directive sets minimum requirements for civil engineering works and physical infrastructure.

The Commission sees broadband as a tool to boost economic growth and for the EU to catch up with the United States and Asia.

The EU executive had initially sought a 54,639-euro daily penalty but subsequently reduced its demand to 6,071 euros after Belgium took measures to transpose the EU rules, with only the Brussels region experiencing some shortcomings.

“The Court orders Belgium to pay a penalty payment of 5,000 euro per day for not fully transposing the directive on high-speed electronic communications networks and, a fortiori, for failure to notify the relevant transposing measures to the Commission,” judges wrote in their ruling.

The case is Case C-543/17 Commission v Belgium

($1 = 0.8908 euros)

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Louise Heavens