The Italian Parliament has approved legislation to institute regulatory authorities with power to set rates and supervise quality, service, and competition in the provision of electric energy and gas, and in telecommunications. This legislation takes the form of a "legislative decree", which sets out the framework of the authorities to be established, together with their basic powers and guidelines for their operations, and requires the Government to pass additional legislation to fill in the gaps. Part of the Legislative Decree addresses the Electric Energy and Gas Authority in detail, and thus less work will be needed in order to make the latter Authority operational.

The enabling act for Italy's energy and telecommunications authorities leaves ultimate control over the granting, renewing, and amendment of utilities licenses in the Ministries now regulating such activity. These ministries are, for telecommunications, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, and for Energy, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Handicrafts. However, the new authorities will have rate making powers as well as powers of direct supervision over the utilities they regulate, including the power to set quality standards, inspect for compliance, demand documentation, hear consumer claims, and arbitrate disputes between consumers and the utilities. Given that "all administrative functions exercised by government bodies and other entities and public agencies" supervising these sectors will be transferred to the new Authorities, it is reasonable to advocate that, in the future, the aforementioned powers over utilities licenses should also be transferred to them, thus centralizing regulation under one roof. See our separate entry on this data base for a detailed description of the framework legislation.

The Energy and telecommunications Authorities were the precondition to the privatization of the Italian Electric and Telecommunications companies. Government sources have stated that with the establishment of the Authorities now underway, they intend to push for electric energy and telecommunications privatizations in 1996.

The content of this article is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. It does not substitute the advice of legal counsel.