ICA: suggestions from the Authority about some proposed amendments to the "Cura Italia" Decree
The Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato, aware of the dramatic emergency that our country is going through and in a fully collaborative spirit, suggests that during ratification of Law Decree no. 18 of 17 March 2020, the proportionality of all measures which, with the laudable aim of safeguarding public health and protecting the weakest sectors of the economy in the immediate future, may jeopardise recovery and growth once the emergency situation is over, should be assessed with extreme attention.
From this point of view, the Authority cannot but express reservations on some proposals to amend the "Cura Italia" decree which, among others, end up introducing measures expected to restrict, if not suspend, competition in entire productive sectors.
The amendment aimed at blocking changes of telephone operator or generating new numbers for the duration of the entire emergency situation is emblematic. In view of the fact that most migration activity is carried out remotely, this measure is certainly disproportionate, as customers are unable to change supplier, at a time when finding the most suitable commercial offer of telephone services to meet new needs is crucial and the benefits of competition may be valuable (lower prices or better services).
Infrastructure competition, functional to providing fixed network communication services, is also a crucial step in addressing the different stages of the emergency.
In this respect, there are several interventions that could lead to a faster roll out of the fibre optic network such as: reducing the administrative costs envisaged for the construction of the networks; favouring the sharing of infrastructures and increasing the level of information compared to existing infrastructures. Derogations from the current regulations could be made only for white areas, to allow more construction sites to be launched. In addition, local administrations could make the infrastructures designed to host the existing telecommunications networks belonging to them available to the various operators.
Similarly, the Authority would like the legislator to carry out a careful and necessary balance between the short-term benefits and the possible costs that could arise in the long-term in relation to the proposals to postpone tenders and concessions. Measures aimed at postponing competition should in fact be strictly temporary and directly functional to overcoming the emergency, avoiding automatic and generalised extensions. In particular, prior to the emergency, many local administrations were launching procedures to award local public transport services by road. Whilst a period of suspension of tendering may appear reasonable, the extensions of credit lines (all of which have already been extended since 3 December 2019) should not in any case exceed the real needs of the administrations, in order to allow the use of appropriate tools to promote efficient use of public resources as soon as possible.
Rome, 8 April 2020