On 15th September 2014, the Italian Competition Authority (“ICA”) delivered an opinion pursuant to Article 21 of Law No. 287 of 1990 (the “Italian Competition Law”) about the rules governing port and airport transport connections within the Italian Region of Latium.
In particular, the ICA held that Article 5-bis of the Regional Law No. 58 of 1993 (“Regional Law”), as amended, would have the effect of reducing competition in the public transport sector of Latium.
The provision provides that with reference to ports and airports connections, only those who possess a license or authorization issued by the Municipality of Rome, or the municipalities within the geographical area of the relevant ports and airports, are entitled to provide taxi or “car and driver hire” services.
The ICA pointed out in its opinion that impeding taxis and “car and driver hire” companies duly licensed by other municipalities to provide their services would not be justifiable on a competition law basis.
This limitation would represent a serious constraint to proper competition to the detriment of holders of licenses or authorizations issued by municipalities other than the ones set forth in the Regional Law.
Further, the ICA held that there is no economic rationale underpinning such provisions which sets forth a “legislative privilege” and competition advantage in favour of undertakings located in a given geographical area without any objective merit.
In addition such provision would also run against Articles 56 and 49 of the EU TFEU as providing taxi and “car and driver hire” services would be made more difficult in a single part of a member state of the European Union (i.e. Latium) rather than in the rest of the European Union public transport market. This would therefore amount to an unlawful obstacle to the freedom to provide services and the freedom of establishment in the European Union market.
Although the ICA’s opinion in not binding on the Region of Latium, the ICA’s approach is welcome in so far as it is likely to encourage greater competition within the overall Italian public transport sector and provide consumers with cost savings.