The Commission refers Spain to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to recover incompatible state aid for the digitaliz…

In October 2014 and June 2013, the Commission adopted two decisions finding that State aid granted by Spain to finance the transition from analogue to digital terrestrial television (DTT) in remote areas of Castilla-La Mancha and the rest of Spain was incompatible with EU State aid rules.

EU law requires that such public financing is accessible for all transmission platforms, including terrestrial, satellite, cable or the internet, on a non-discriminatory basis. However, only terrestrial digital technology benefitted from the controversial funds which discriminated between different terrestrial operators, resulting in a selective advantage for some operators over their competitors. The characteristics of the scheme may have deprived consumers of more choice and lower prices. As a consequence, the Commission ordered the recovery of the subsidies.

So far, the Spanish authorities have only recovered approximately 2% of the estimated amount under the first decision and nothing under the second one. In addition, they continue to pay for the operation and maintenance of parts of the DTT network, in breach of the decisions.

As a result of the delay in implementing the decisions, the distortion of competition in the relevant market continues. Therefore, the Commission has decided to refer Spain to the Court of Justice of the EU pursuant to Article 108(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.