«We are aware of recent developments with Italian legislation. It is a prerogative of the Italian authorities how to prepare the reform process in bathing concessions. For the Commission, what is important is the content and not the form of this reform. ‘ This was stated by a spokeswoman for the European Commission in response to a question on the Competition Bill. “It is important for us that the Italian authorities proceed quickly to bring their legislation and practices regarding bathing concessions into conformity with European legislation and also with the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice,” added the spokesperson.
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”.
On February 16, the EU commissioner for the single market Thierry Breton also intervened on the case, recalling “the Italian regulations in force” on bathing concessions “not only violate EU law, but also compromise legal certainty for tourist services bathing. The Commission, as guardian of the treaties, will continue to take the necessary measures to ensure full compliance with EU law in this sector ”.