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Italy risks missing Recovery Plan deadline due to EU concerns, sources say




Italy's Prime Minister, Mario Draghi arrives for a joint press conference with Italy's Economy Minister and Italy's Minister for Labour and Social Policy following a Cabinet meeting in Rome, Italy, March 19, 2021. Alberto Pizzoli/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Italy risks missing a 30 April deadline for submitting a final version of its Recovery Plan to the European Commission because Brussels is not satisfied with several aspects of the drafts presented so far, two sources close to the matter said, write Giuseppe Fonte and Gavin Jones.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Mario Draghi (pictured) firmly denied that the deadline would be missed. "The plan will be presented on 30 April," he said. An Economy Ministry spokesman said "our aim remains to present it on 30 April".

A delay would be a blow to Draghi, who took office two months ago tasked with fine-tuning the plan prepared by the previous government.

All 27 European Union countries have been working on their national plans which spell out how each government wants to spend its share of the EU's €750 billion ($900bn) Recovery Fund joint borrowing scheme.

Italy is eligible for more than €200bn in grants and cheap loans from the Fund, the biggest slice of any EU country. The money will be disbursed gradually over six years.

"The Commission is unhappy with the Recovery Plan as it stands," said one of the sources, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The source said Draghi would probably present the plan around mid-May, but a longer period may be required to overcome the Commission's objections.

Among Brussels' main concerns are a lack of detail over how the plan will be managed once it gets EU approval and the substance of some of the reforms outlined, including of the justice system, the source said.

Another source also said Brussels wanted changes to the plan, which would require time, and said mid-May now seemed a "realistic" period for its presentation.

Italy has not previously suggested it might be late, and Draghi told reporters on 8 April that "on April 30 we will deliver our plan".

A Commission spokeswoman said it had no comment to make on the Italian plan in particular, but the Commission understood that drawing up the Recovery Plans was a challenging task for all member states while they are also focused on tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the plans should be presented by April 30 as a rule, some countries "may need a few more weeks," she said, and "quality should be the first priority". She added that the Commission was currently in "intensive dialogue" with all countries on the preparation of their plans.

Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said on Friday (16 April) that some EU countries would miss the April 30 target date, without saying which ones.

Draghi's main mission on taking office, along with the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, was to present a solid Recovery Plan to ensure the flow of the EU funds to finally unleash growth for the chronically sluggish economy.

The national plans are blueprints for spending grants and loans that each EU country will get from the unprecedented joint borrowing by the Commission to rebuild economies greener and more digital after the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his comments on Friday, Dombrovskis said the delay in the submission of some plans would not push back the scheme as a whole, details of which still require ratification by some countries' parliaments.

Provided any delays in the presentation of the plans are not too long, and the ratification is completed in all member states by June, the Commission can make first disbursements in July, Dombrovskis said.

($1 = €0.8345)


Italian court upholds €3.7 million viagogo fine for ticket touting, rules it is not a 'passive hosting provider'

EU Reporter Correspondent



An Italian court has rejected an appeal from viagogo against a €3,700,000 fine for hosting tickets sold in contravention of Italian law.  The judgment, which was handed down by the Regional Administrative Court of Lazio earlier this month, upholds a 2020 ruling brought by Italian Communications Regulatory Authority AGCOM sanctioning viagogo for listing tickets to 37 events at above face value between March and July 2019.

Italy’s 2017 Budget law states that tickets for entertainment events must only be sold by authorised ticket providers in Italy. However, consumers are permitted to sell unwanted tickets for a price equal to or less than the ticket’s face value.

The judges rejected viagogo’s argument that it was acting as a “passive hosting provider” by merely connecting resellers with potential buyers, which would exempt the resale platform from liability under Italian law implementing the E-Commerce Directive. Instead, viagogo was found to provide a range of services and promote and advertise tickets in a way that could not be considered to be carried out without any awareness or control on its part.

The Court pointed out that: "The service provided by the viagogo… clearly does not have the characteristics of passive hosting, given that it clearly does not consist in the mere "storage of information", but rather in the articulated activities of optimisation and advertising promotion of the titles on sale…. Nor has the appellant in any way substantiated the claim that such complex activities would be carried out by the platform in a completely automatic manner and without any awareness and/or possibility of control on its part".

In a final dig, the court added that even if viagogo had qualified as a “passive hosting provider,” it would still not have benefited from the liability exemption afforded by the law as it did not act quickly to remove or disable access to the listings once notified by the competent authorities.

This important ruling is another step towards greater accountability of secondary ticketing platforms, which routinely profit from illegal ticket sales. It builds on consistent rulings against liability exemption as a passive hosting provider – from both the Italian Supreme Court (n. 7708 March 19, 2019. Mediaset vs Yahoo!) and European Court (C-324/09, L'Orèal v. eBay and C-236/08, Google v. Louis Vuitton).  It comes as European legislators look at tightening the rules around platform liability, with particular regard to marketplaces — including the likes of viagogo.

FEAT Director Sam Shemtob said: “Uncapped secondary marketplaces such as viagogo have long been shielding under the liability exemption offered by EU law by claiming to have little to no knowledge of the activity taking place on their sites. It is time that they’re held responsible for the illegal activity they promote and profit from, both in Italy and across Europe”.

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Italian prosecutor says Salvini should not be tried in Gregoretti migrant case





A prosecutor said on Saturday (10 April) that Italy’s right-wing League leader Matteo Salvini (pictured) should not be sent to trial over illegally detaining migrants in a case being considered by a court in the Sicilian city of Catania, writes Giulia Segreti.

The high-profile case, for which former Prime Minister Conte was also asked to testify, centres on an incident in July 2019, when Salvini, then interior minister, blocked more than 100 people aboard a coastguard ship for six days as he waited for European allies to agree to resettle them.

Magistrates have argued that Salvini kidnapped the migrants, not allowing them to disembark the Gregoretti but rather keeping them at sea in fierce heat off of the port of Augusta.

Prosecutor Andrea Bonomo said on Saturday that the former minister should not be tried, as his decision did not violate international treaties and was not to be considered kidnapping, given that the coastguard ship was a so-called place of safety where migrants were given medical assistance and support.

Bonomo, speaking at a court hearing, added that the government backed Salvini’s decision and his policy overall, given the coalition had asked Europe to discuss a different mechanism to allocate migrants in the bloc.

A decision on whether or not to proceed with the trial will be taken by a judge on May 14.

Salvini, who heads the anti-immigrant League party, has always argued that he was acting in the national interest and that the entire government backed his initiative, something Conte has disputed.

In a separate case, in Palermo, a prosecutor has formally called for Salvini to be indicted for kidnapping over his decision in August 2019 to prevent migrants from disembarking from another ship, a rescue ship operated by charity Open Arms.

A final decision on whether to proceed with that case rests with a senior judge.

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Rome Fiumicino and Ciampino Airports the first in Europe to achieve Airport Carbon Accreditation Level 4+

Press release



Aeroporti di Roma, the operator of Rome’s Fiumicino and Ciampino airports, has achieved the highest level of the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme: Level 4+ 'Transition', the first in Europe to do so.

To achieve this recognition, airports are required to reduce their CO2 emissions in line with global climate goals, to influence other parties active within the airport site to achieve effective reductions, and to compensate for their residual emissions with reliable carbon credits. Only two other airports in the world have achieved this level of carbon management performance so far: Dallas Fort Worth International in the US and Delhi Indira Gandhi International in India, while Christchurch International Airport has reached Level 4 Transformation. 

Since 2011, after obtaining the first Airport Carbon Accreditation certification, Aeroporti di Roma has continuously reduced carbon emissions under its control and driven broader reductions within the airport system through an engagement plan involving all stakeholders. Rome Fiumicino Airport has been a carbon neutral airport since 2013, and was joined shortly thereafter by Ciampino Airport. 

In order to accelerate their progress to reach the objectives of the Paris Agreement and achieve Level 4+, Aeroporti di Roma has set out a plan to eliminate all of its own CO2emissions and thus achieve net zero COemissions by 2030. This ambitious target, when achieved, will set the airports 20 years ahead of the curve on the global climate neutrality objectives.

“This noteworthy recognition testifies to our strong commitment to environmental issues and to our willingness to continue tenaciously on this path, convinced of the need to increasingly integrate sustainability and innovation into our core business.” said the CEO of Aeroporti di Roma, Marco Troncone. “In view of the carbon-intensive nature of the aviation sector and to preserve the connectivity of the future, ADR's strategy is oriented towards the rapid decarbonisation of the airports it manages. In fact, we are aiming to reach zero CO2 emissions by 2030, long in advance of the European references for the sector, with a plan mainly aimed at renewable sources and electric mobility.”

Aeroporti di Roma specifically contributes to the reduction of the overall emissions of the various stakeholders operating at the airport by: Making Sustainable Aviation Fuel available to airlines by 2024 Promoting electric mobility at the airport, with the installation of 500 charging stations for electric vehicles and completely renewing its own fleet Building large photovoltaic plants at the airport for a total capacity of 60 MW Joining the EP-100 of The Climate Group's global initiative on the smarter use of energy, with the ambitious commitment to increase its energy productivity by 150% by 2016.

ACI EUROPE Director General Olivier Jankovec said: “We are absolutely thrilled with Aeroporti di Roma’s excellent achievement! When launching the new levels of Airport Carbon Accreditation last year, amid the direst of crises ever witnessed by the aviation sector, we were propelling an industry-wide ambition that was suddenly stripped of the vital resources to fulfill it. Decarbonisation is an especially costly endeavour for businesses in the so-called “hard-to-abate” sectors, of which aviation is a prime example. Moving past these challenges and reaching the highest level of Airport Carbon Accreditation at this time is an exceptional achievement on the part of Rome Airports. I would like to wholeheartedly congratulate and thank each person involved in this success.

He added: “The track record of our members, and our industry, illustrates that we lead the way in the airport decarbonisation worldwide. Through the ongoing ambition of our Airport Carbon Accreditation programme, further enhanced through the introduction of two new accreditation levels, our close involvement in the European aviation sector’s recent Destination 2050 roadmap, and our call for the EU to join us in a Pact for Sustainable Aviation this year, we continue to strive towards our climate goals in tangible and actionable ways. Our ambition remains undimmed.”

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