Irish Sugar owner Greencore has been rebuffed in a legal bid to force the European Commission to pay €154,892 (US$0.18m) interest on a refunded fine, with a European Court of Justice advocate general saying it overly delayed legal action.

Greencore had requested Brussels pay both principal and interest on €916,674 repaid after the ECJ's Court of First Instance reduced a competition fine imposed by Brussels in 1997. However, the Commission refused. The company subsequently launched an ECJ action claiming the interest, but not until the court confirmed - eight months later in another case - that the Commission should pay interest on such refunds.

Brussels said Greencore should have appealed within two months and advocate general Francis Jacobs has now recommended the senior ECJ backs the Commission.