Double violation letter from Europe to Italy on coastal resorts and individual allowance. On the first front, Rome has been criticized for failing to comply with Bolkenstein’s directive regarding the regulatory regime governing beach and beach concessions. Then the European Commission also decided to send to our country a reasoned opinion for non-compliance with European rules on coordination of social security and freedom of movement of workers.
The most sensitive issue is that of coastal resorts. The title of the letter – Bathing privileges in Italy / Violation of the Directive and treaties relating to the European Union – with the reasoned opinion of the European Executive, appears on the Commission’s webpage which contains and updates the documents on open infringement procedures. Reporting date is today. However, contrary to what usually happens, the letter was not referred to in the community press release that, on Thursday, provides the latest updates on the measure. Therefore, reading the reasoned opinion is not available at the present time. Once a member state receives a reasoned opinion from the Commission on a particular case, it has two months to respond and adapt to EU rules.
European Union: Negotiations with Italy are “unbiased”
“We have sent a reasoned opinion” on the Italian beach concessions and this “now gives the Italian government two months to provide answers and then we will decide the next steps.” We always prefer to reach an agreement with Member States, rather than resort to court. “It is a rational opinion and does not prejudice the ongoing negotiations that we will have with the Italian authorities,” the Commission spokeswoman explained in the daily meeting with the press regarding the letter sent regarding the beach concessions.
The procedure containing the reasoned opinion sent today by the European Union to Italy in 2020 was opened with a formal notification letter to Italy on the issuance of licenses relating to the use of the State’s marine property for coastal tourism and leisure services. Brussels believes that licences, the number of which is limited due to the scarcity of natural resources (such as beaches), should be issued for a limited period and through an open public selection procedure based on non-discrimination, transparency and objectivity. In 2016, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the relevant legislation and the then-existing practice in Italy of automatically extending existing licenses for beach concessions were inconsistent with Union law. Italy has extended existing licenses until the end of 2023, preventing local authorities from starting or continuing public selection procedures for granting concessions, which would otherwise have expired, in violation of Union law. In 2020, Brussels gave Italy two months to respond. Then the case stopped due to the responsibility of different governments. Now there is a new step in the procedure: Italy has two months to act.
Control also applies to one check
The second complaint to the European Union concerns the so-called individual allowance. In March 2022, Italy introduced a new family allowance for dependent children (“Individual and Comprehensive Allowance for Dependent Children”): only people who have resided in Italy for at least two years are entitled to this benefit, and only if they live in Italy in the same family as their children. According to the Commission, this legislation violates the law because it does not treat EU citizens fairly, which amounts to discrimination. Furthermore, the regulation prohibits any residence requirement for social security benefits such as family allowances. This reasoned opinion follows a formal notification letter sent to Italy in February 2023. The Commission considers that the Italian response to the findings does not satisfactorily address the concerns raised. Italy has two months to respond and take the necessary measures. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
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