Italian beaches are renowned for their stunning beauty, stretching along a 7,500 km coastline and dotted with approximately 12,000 privately-owned beach concessions that collectively employ around 300,000 seasonal workers. However, in the past, the assignment of licenses for Italian beaches has been opaque and concession licenses have automatically renewed. As a result, the EU has requested that Italy comply with Directives regarding competition rules.
The Italian beach concession industry generates an estimated 15 billion euros in annual revenue, with the average price for two sunbeds and a parasol per day being 100 euros. Interestingly, the majority of concessions – roughly 30,000 organizations – are managed privately.
In light of legal changes that come into effect in January 2024, all concession owners will need to reapply for licenses through public tenders. This significant reform presents an opportunity for overseas investors with strong liquidity to benefit from investing in Italian beach concessions.
Italian Beaches: Investment Opportunities
Anyone interested in operating a business on Italian beaches should be aware of these legal changes, and should therefore prepare to participate in a fair and transparent selection process.
The EU Court of Justice has issued a ruling that requires businesses to undergo a fair and transparent selection process instead of automatically renewing their beach concessions. The EU Court of Justice made this decision after hearing a case involving the Italian Competition and Market Authority and the municipality of Ginosa (Taranto, Puglia).
To clarify the matter, the Luxembourg authorities interpreted Italian law that allowed for the automatic extension of beach concessions and confirmed the validity, binding nature, and direct effect of the EU Directive on services in the internal market, also known as the Bolkestein Directive. In December 2020, the municipality of Ginosa faced opposition from the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) when they automatically extended concessions based on national regulations. The Court ruled that EU provisions apply “to all concessions for the occupation of the maritime domain” and that Member States must use “objective, non-discriminatory, transparent, and proportionate parameters” when assessing the scarcity of natural resources available for bidding.
EU Court: Impartial Selection Process Mandated for Italian Beaches
The EU Court ruling mandates that Member States must apply an impartial and transparent selection process for assigning concessions. It prohibits them from automatically renewing beach concession licenses. The ruling makes it clear that these obligations are unconditional and requires national judges and administrative authorities, including municipalities, to apply European provisions while eliminating non-compliant national legal norms.
De Tullio Law Firm specializes in providing legal services for cross-border residential and commercial property transactions throughout Italy. To assist potential investors in navigating the Italian beaches tendering process, we have created a dedicated beach concession team. Our experts possess extensive legal, linguistic, tax, and financial expertise, offering a one-stop-shop solution for investors.
If you’re considering property ventures in Italy, exploring Italian beach concessions could be an interesting investment. Italian beaches offer a unique opportunity to lease a highly desirable, profitable slice of Italian real estate, and may represent a solid return on investment. Contact De Tullio Law Firm today to learn more about how our team can help you navigate the process of acquiring an Italian beach concession.
For more details about legal changes to Italian beach concessions, you may like to read this European Parliament study.
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