ANNOUNCEMENT 18 Dec 2012In December 2012, the government of Italy announced a change in private-sector financial support.
NUMBER OF INTERVENTIONS
Letter of the EC to Italy, Brussels, 18.12.2012; C (2012) 9833 final:
On 4 June 2012, the Italian Government notified the European Commission about a support program for a nationwide rollout of access to fast and superfast broadband.
In line with the objectives of the Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE), Italy intends to put in place its own national digital strategy, which includes various types of interventions. The country has already adopted two national frameworks to bridge the national divide in broadband services: the Rural Broadband Plan and the National Broadband Plan (authorized by the commission in 2010 and 2012 respectively).
The new project aims at maximizing the Next Generation Access (NGA) development within the Italian territory in order to link all households with high speed broadband connectivity by 2020. Southern regions are expected to be the first beneficiaries of the interventions.
Three types of interventions are envisaged:
i) Direct intervention for the building and rollout of passive infrastructures: A third party is selected, who will build the infrastructure with public funds. The tender is only open to undertakings and consortia established within the EU. A concessionaire will then be selected for commercial exploitation of the optical fibers.
ii) Public-Private partnership: A private partner is selected through a tender, who then establishes a partnership with a public partner, the latter holding a major participation and supervisory and control powers.
iii) Incentive-Based funds are granted to a selected commercial operators, who will contribute for at least 30% of the total investment.
The Italian authorities estimate that the total amount of state support will be above EUR9bn.
As the European Commission reports, state resources will alter the existing market conditions and benefit both selected operators and, to a lesser extent, third party providers. Moreover: 'the fact that an improved broadband service becomes available has the effect of distorting competition. Insofar as the State intervention is liable to affect service providers from other Member States, it also has an effect on trade since the markets for electronic communication services ... are open to competition between operators and service providers. ... The measure constitutes state aid within the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU'. 'Pp.11-12 letter of the EC to Italy, Brussels, 18.12.2012; C (2012) 9833 final'
A state measure in the GTA database is assessed solely in terms of the extent to which its implementation affects the extent of discrimination against foreign commercial interests. On this metric, the state aid proposed here is discriminatory.