EC opens procedure against Italy over beach concessions

Automatic extensions of permits 'discourages investment'

(ANSA) - ROME, DEC 3 - The European Commission said Thursday that it was opening an infringement procedure against Italy for breaching EU law in its handling of beach concessions.
    The EC said it was taking issue with the fact that concessions to beach establishments are automatically extended.
    In Italy privately run beach establishments rent out loungers and provide life guards and services such as showers.
    They usually have a bar or a restaurant.
    Much of the best areas of Italy's coastline are taken up by such establishments, which limits options for people who just want to throw down a towel on the sand and have a day at the beach for free.
    The Commission said that Rome had failed to implement a 2016 Court of Justice (CJEU) sentence that ruled the practice "to automatically extend existing authorisations of beach concessions was incompatible with EU law".
    Since then Italy has extended the existing authorisations until the end of 2033 and prohibited local authorities from launching or continuing open public selection procedures for the assignment of concessions that would otherwise have expired, the EC said.
    "Member States have an obligation to ensure that authorisations that are limited in number due to a scarcity of available natural resources (e.g. beaches), are granted for a limited duration and through an open, public selection procedure based on non-discriminatory, transparent and objective criteria," the Commission said .
    "The Commission considers that the Italian legislation, in addition to the inconsistency with EU law, contradicts in substance the CJEU's judgment mentioned above and creates legal uncertainty for beach tourism services, discourages investment in a sector that is key to the Italian economy and already hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic while also causing a potentially significant loss of income for local Italian authorities".
    Italy now has two months to respond to the Commission. (ANSA).


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