Bathing concessions, the EU announces legal battles against Italy for the extension to 2024


Brussels – The European Commission will not sit idly by, after the Milleproroghe decree extended the existing beach concessions in Italy until the end of 2024. The least that can be expected is another letter, as part of the infringement procedure that started in December 2020 with a letter of formal notice. That letter was followed by the formal commitment, made by the government, to put the concessions out for tender by the end of 2023, which is why the procedure did not move to the next stage, the reasoned opinion.

Now, with the step back taken with the extension to the end of 2024, a second letter will probably be sent, which could be an additional letter of formal notice or a reasoned opinion (shape is yet to be decided). The procedure had been ‘stopped’ thanks to the commitments made by Italy, which would have brought it in line with compliance with EU standards, but now this setback is changing things, therefore the Commission could continue with the procedure, which is particularly founded because there is already a sentence from the EU Court of Justice, which in 2016 established that the practice followed by Italy of automatically extending existing concessions is incompatible with Community law.

Bathing concessions, the EU against Italy: “The extension until 2024 is disturbing”

The Commission could therefore decide to continue the procedure, sending a clear signal to Rome that the matter must be resolved, also because Italy still does not apply the sentence of the Court of Justice. In 2020, the Commission had underlined that the Italian legislation, which extended concessions until 2033 and prohibited local authorities from launching public tenders on expiring concessions, violated EU law, creating legal uncertainty in the tourist services sector and discouraging investments in a crucial sector for the country’s economy, causing a “significant loss of revenue” for the Italian state.

The EU infringement procedure has several stages: if the country, after the letter of formal notice and the reasoned opinion, continues not to comply with the legislation, the Commission may decide to refer it to the Court of Justice, even if most cases are resolved earlier. If the Court establishes that the country in question has infringed EU law, national authorities must take steps to comply with the provisions of the Court’s ruling.

In this case, however, the Court has already established that Italy violates EU law, therefore in theory, if it wanted to, the Commission could drag Rome directly to the Court, since the rules provide that if, despite the sentence of the Court of Justice, the country still does not rectify the situation, the Commission can refer it to the Court.

When a country is referred to the Court of Justice for the second time, fines are typically imposed, which can consist of a lump sum and/or per diem payments. The calculation of the sums due takes into account various elements, including the importance of the violated rules, the effects of the violation on general and particular interests, the period in which EU law has not been applied and the country’s ability to pay. Sanctions aim to have a deterrent effect: daily fees continue to be paid until the country is in compliance. (source Adnkronos)


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