On 28 September 2016, the Italian Administrative Court of First Instance (the “IAC”) upheld a decision of the Autorita Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercado (“AGCM”) (the Authority responsible for competition compliance and enforcement of markets rules), which found that Poste Italiane S.p.A. violated section 8, paragraph 2-quarter of Law No. 287 of 1990 (the Competition and Fair Trading Act).
The law requires that businesses providing services of general economic interest (“SGEI”) must make available the goods and/or services related to the managed SGEI to their direct competitors, at the same terms and conditions applied to their subsidiaries or controlled companies, in order to guarantee equal business opportunity.
In particular, the IAC pointed out that Poste Italiane refused to grant to its competitors the same economic conditions which applied to its own company (Poste Mobile S.p.A.) for the use of the postal offices network (“Postal Network”) along with the supply of professional services required to distribute pre-paid telephone cards.
The IAC held that the management of a Postal Network must be considered as a SGEI, and therefore Poste Italiane could not avoid the application of the provisions set forth in the Competition and Fair Trading Act (Section 8), as the definition of SGEI is not necessarily linked to the “essential facility doctrine”, so that there is no need of the non-substitutability character of the relevant goods and/or services.
It is likely that this decision will help provide consumers of mobiles and businesses with cost savings.