“We are aware of the latest developments in Italy” on bathing concessions. “It is an Italian prerogative to decide how to proceed with the reform. The content is important to the Commission, not the form this reform will take”. This said a spokeswoman for the European Commission. It is however “important – added the spokesman – that the Italian authorities quickly bring their legislation and their practices relating to the attribution of bathing concessions into conformity with European law and the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice”.
Waiting for the response of the Italian government – “With regard to the state of progress of the infringement procedure (for the non-application of the Bolkestein directive, ed), Italy replied to the letter of formal notice”, sent by Brussels on 3 December 2020. “The Commission analyzed the arguments provided by the Italian authorities and is in contact with Italy “, spokeswoman for the EU Commission, Sonya Gospodinova, told LaPresse.
The steps towards the infringement procedure – The EU infringement procedure consists of several steps. As a first step, the Commission sends a letter of formal notice requesting further information from the country in question, which must send a detailed reply within a specific deadline. If the Commission concludes that the country has failed to fulfill its obligations under EU law, it can send a reasoned opinion, i.e. a formal request to comply with EU law explaining why it believes the country violates EU law. The Commission also asks the country concerned to notify it of the measures taken within a specific deadline, usually two months. If the country continues to fail to comply with the legislation, the commission may decide to refer it to the Court of Justice. Most cases are resolved before being referred to the Court.
An arm wrestling for 15 years – The Italian bathing concessions system has been in the sights of Brussels since 2009. In 2016, at the end of an initial infringement procedure, the EU Court of Justice ruled on the case with a sentence condemning Italy for non-compliance with European rules on the single market and competition. On 3 December 2020, the European Commission had returned to office with the launch of a new infringement procedure – which this time could end with the imposition of a financial penalty – underlining that not only had Italy not yet implemented the Court ruling of 2016, but which “since then has further extended the current authorizations until the end of 2033 and prohibited local authorities from initiating or continuing public selection procedures for the assignment of concessions, which would otherwise have expired”.