Promotion of Competition and Judicial Review: the Case of Local Public Services

By Mario Midiri

The unstable regulation of local public services raises a constitutional challenge: how to bring innovation, in consultation with the various tiers of government, into a key sector for economic development. The 2008-2009 reform established the principle of competition within the field and curbed the operation of services through in-house public utilities. Cities feel that they have been placed under the yoke of the anti-trust authority. The June 2011 referendum acted as a catalyst for the growing concern regarding public services: the “water as a common asset” campaign led to the abrogation of the entire reform. Today, we should begin with the principles enshrined in European law. In those areas where European legislation leaves some leeway, ad hoc rules to spur competition should be devised, to enhance the possibilities of industrial development, while safeguarding the mission of public utilities, which are a tool of social and territorial cohesion.