VILNIUS - Lithuania's state-owned railway company Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG) must pay a fine of EUR 20 million for removing a rail track to Latvia back in 2008, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled on Thursday, upholding the General Court's judgment.
The European Commission fined LTG almost EUR 28 million in 2017. The EU General Court in 2020 dismissed the Lithuanian company's action for annulment of the EU executive body's decision, but reduced the fine to EUR 20 million.
"The Commission conducted a comprehensive analysis which makes it possible to establish to the requisite legal standard that the removal of railway infrastructure was capable of having anticompetitive effects," the CJEU said in a press release on Thursday.
LTG asked the CJEU to annul, in whole or in part, the decisions of both the General Court and the EC, and, if this request is rejected, to annul or further reduce the imposed fine.
The CJEU said in the judgment that the removal of the track, which "inevitably" made the infrastructure unusable not only by competitors, but also by the dominant undertaking, "cannot be understood as a refusal of access (...), but must be viewed (...) as an independent form of abuse".
LTG lodged its appealed with the CJEU in January 2021.
The 19-kilometer railway stretch from Orlen Lietuva's crude refinery in Mazeikiai to Renge in Latvia was dismantled in 2008.
LTG said the condition of the track was so poor that it had to be removed immediately, but failed to prove this. The company rebuilt the 19-kilometer railway stretch in late 2019, which cost it EUR 10 million.
LTG paid the full amount of the fine in January 2018 and was repaid EUR 7.804 million after the court reduced it.