Mobit Dispute Opens Up Italian Public Transport Sector to Competition

May 29, 2017

Cleary Gottlieb represented the Mobit consortium in a dispute regarding a tender offer for the concession to operate the public road transport service throughout the Tuscany region for 11 years and a value of about €3.2 billion.

This tender offer, the first of its kind in Italy, was awarded to Autolinee Toscane, a subsidiary of RATP, the French state-owned transportation service, which is also responsible for operating most of the public transportation services in the Paris region, including the Paris Métro and RER.

On May 29, 2017, the local public transport sector opened up to competition based on the Italian Council of State’s submission of four different interpretative questions on EU Regulation No. 1370/2007. The firm developed the arguments on behalf of the Mobit consortium, which includes the companies that currently operate local public road transport services in Tuscany, including a subsidiary of the Italian railway incumbent Ferrovie dello Stato – the Italian Council of State.

For the first time in Europe, the Council of State has questioned whether RATP should be qualified as an internal or “in-house” operator of the French State, which, as such, would be prohibited from participating, directly or indirectly, in local public transport tenders outside the Paris region. The Council of State also considers that RATP’s concession in the Paris region may in any event not be compliant with the provisions of the regulation, which would represent a further reason why RATP and its subsidiary could not participate in the tender at issue.

Given the relevance and the novelty of the issues touched upon by the questions submitted to the CJEU, the preliminary ruling is likely to have a far-reaching impact in the local public transport sector in the EU well beyond the case.