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EU orders France to recover €8.5m in aid given to Ryanair

The European Union on Friday ordered France to recover €8.5 million from Ryanair which it said the low-cost Irish airline had received in illegal state aid to use Montpellier airport.

EU orders France to recover €8.5m in aid given to Ryanair
Photo: AFP

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, opened an investigation last year to determine whether Ryanair had received such aid from a tourism association in southern France.

The investigation showed the association APFTE made payments that “gave Ryanair an unfair and selective advantage over its competitors and harmed other regions and regional airports,” competition commisioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

Montpellier airport. Photo: AFP

“France must recover €8.5 million in illegal aid granted to Ryanair at Montpellier airport,” the commission statement headlined.

The commission said APFTE had struck deals between 2010 and 2017 with Ryanair “in return for promoting Montpellier and the surrounding region as a tourist destination on the Ryanair site.”

The commission concluded these contracts “were financed by means of state resources and were attributable to the state,” because APTFE is financed “almost entirely by regional and local French public entities.”

It said the payments made on the basis of contracts “served only as an incentive for Ryanair to maintain its activities at Montpellier airport”.

In April this year, Ryanair switched operations from Montpellier to nearby Beziers airport. The Irish carrier also serves other regional airports such as Nimes, Carcassonne and Perpignan.

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BUSINESS

French court hands Amazon €90,000-per-day fine over contracts

French authorities on Wednesday slapped a €90,000-per-day fine on e-commerce giant Amazon until it removes abusive clauses in its contracts with businesses using its platform to sell their goods.

French court hands Amazon €90,000-per-day fine over contracts

The anti-fraud Direction générale de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des fraudes (DGCCRF) service said the online sales giant’s contracts with third-party sellers who use its Amazon.fr website contain “unbalanced” clauses.

“The company Amazon Services Europe did not comply completely with an injunction it was served and it is now subject to a fine of €90,000 per day of delay” in applying the changes, the DGCCRF said in a statement.

It also urged the platform to conform with European rules on equity and transparency for firms using online platforms.

Amazon said the order would harm consumers.

“The changes imposed by the DGCCRF will stop us from effectively protecting consumers and permit bad actors to set excessive prices or spam our clients with commercial offers,” the e-commerce giant said in a statement.

“We will comply with the DGCCRF’s decision but we absolutely do not understand it and we are challenging it in court,” responded the e-commerce giant in a statement.

Amazon said the clauses that the DGCCRF has ordered removed had, for example “prevented the appearance of exorbitant prices for mask and hydroalcoholic gel during the pandemic”.

In 2019, Amazon was fined €4 million for “manifestly unbalanced” contract clauses with third-party sellers on its site in a case brought by the DGCCRF.

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