The Italian authorities granted an 18-year-long extension of a concession contract to the Società Autostrada Tirrenica p.A. (SAT S.p.A) company that is currently in charge of building and managing the A12 motorway Civitavecchia-Livorno. The contract was extended without a prior call for tenders. The Commission considers that Italy has failed to fulfil its obligations under EU public procurement rules, especially Directive 2004/18/EC.
EU Public Procurement rules aim to ensure that all economic operators have a fair chance to participate in a call for tender and to win a contract. According to the rules, a new concession can only be awarded after a competitive tendering procedure except in special cases specifically regulated by EU law. A time extension is equivalent to a new concession, so extending the expiry date of a motorway concession contract without a prior call for tenders is not in line with EU law as other potentially interested undertakings cannot bid.
The Commission previously raised its concerns in a reasoned opinion in October 2014, urging Italy to remedy the breach of EU law. Following close discussions with the Italian authorities and given the measures they proposed would not remedy the breach of EU legislation, the Commission has decided to refer Italy to the Court of Justice.
The Società Autostrada Tirrenica p.A. (SAT S.p.A) concession was first granted in 1969 for the construction of a motorway between Livorno and Civitavecchia. For various reasons, only 56 of the envisaged 242 km have been built to date. The original concession was granted for 30 years (until 1999). Since then, the concession has been extended twice (until 2028 and 2046 respectively) without any competitive tendering procedure.
The Commission opened an infringement procedure against Italy on this matter in 2009 but closed the case based on commitments proposed by the Italian authorities. A new infringement procedure was launched in 2014 as it came to the Commission's attention that Italy did not respect the commitments made in 2009. Following further discussions with the Italian authorities to resolve the issue, the Commission has decided to refer Italy to the Court of Justice.
Motorway concessions are a strategic public service representing large investments that have a significant impact on the national economy. Several other motorway concession contracts in Italy are currently being examined by the Commission to assess compatibility with EU rules. As regards procurement specifically, the Commission in most cases aims to clarify whether concessions are tendered through open and competitive procurement procedures, including for extensions of contracts.
For More Information
- On the key decisions in the May 2017 infringements package, see full MEMO/17/1280.
- On the May infringements package (on letters of formal notices only), see full MEMO/17/1281.
- On the EU infringements procedure.