Beach concessions, revisions in sight for the fees

The managers of the bathing establishments protest after the State Council rejected the extension of maritime licenses. From 2024 the tenders for permits will have to reopen, as Europe has been telling us for over ten years

Costa Smeralda, Sardinia. In one of the most envied seas in the world it can happen to pay for a sun bed and umbrella up to several hundred euros a day. And those who rent them, for example a large luxury hotel, in order to be allowed to exploit a good that belongs to everyone, that is the beach, pays the State, in an entire year, a slightly higher amount.

Missed income for the state

It is an extreme case, but not the only one. Often the rents paid to have a bathhouse are very low, with the result that the Treasury takes little if compared with what enters the portfolio of those who manage these activities: 103 million euros against a turnover in the sector of about 15 billions, an obvious disproportion.

Draghi’s change of strategy

These are not the only expenses borne by those who run businesses of this type and these are somewhat outdated numbers, so much so that the government wants to start what Mario Draghi called “mapping” to understand who exploits these and other concessions. A move, that of the premier, which becomes even more urgent after the Council of State has banned the extension of bathing licenses starting from 2024. The automatic renewal mechanism – the administrative judges write – is contrary to European rules, consequently it is rejected what was established in 2018 by the first Conte government, which had extended the permits for beaches to 2034.

European requests

In reality, it has been since 2006 that Brussels (with the Bolkestein directive) has established that public concessions must be auctioned to the highest bidder, in order to avoid monopolies and unjustified rents that have been dragging on for years. However, Rome has never adapted, so much so that when Palazzo Chigi, in recent days, presented the competition reform, Europe immediately reminded us that as regards bathing establishments (but also itinerant trade) we are not respecting the law .