German retailer Tengelmann is to complain to the European Union about a freeze in supermarket licences in Portugal.

Tengelmann, which operates the Plus supermarket chain in Portugal, said the suspension of a decree regarding supermarket licensing has impeded the company’s plans to invest €300m (US$351.1m) up to 2007 in its Portuguese operations.

“This impediment is considered by Tengelmann Group as a violation of the right of free establishment and free commerce on the part of the government, for which reason the German group will pursue a complaint to Brussels,” the company was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Tengelmann said 40 requests for supermarket permits had been blocked and the company had only invested €60m in 24 supermarkets.

A spokeswoman for the Economy Ministry said the government was drafting a law to replace one that had set up a system of quotas that had been “exhausted”.