Rome council votes against free market Bolkestein directive

Rome votes to postpone changes to existing commercial licences until 2020.

Rome's city council has approved a motion presented by mayor Virginia Raggi's Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) to postpone implementation of a European Union directive designed to open up competition within the services sector.

The directive, named after former EU internal market commissioner Frits Bolkestein, aims to create a free market for the services sector by requiring the reissue of tenders for commercial activities such as markets, stalls and food trucks.

Rome councillors voted 31 in favour and seven against the motion to extend all existing licences of commerical stands in the capital's public areas until 2020.

Those in favour of the motion included Raggi's anti-establishment M5S, the right-wing Fratelli d'Italia and the left-wing Sinistra Italiana; the councillors who voted against belonged to premier Matteo Renzi's centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) and those on the civic list of entrepreneur Alfio Marchini.

The vote was welcomed by traders however opponents view the decision as playing into the hands of the powerful Tredicine clan, which owns the majority of the mobile sandwich bars around the city and has political connections.

It is also perceived by many as a step backwards, unravelling the repeated efforts by former mayor Ignazio Marino to challenge the Tredicine's perceived monopoly, by clamping down on the location of their sandwich bars at historic sites, reducing the city's Befana market in Piazza Navona, and questioning the circumstances behind the clan's procurance of so many trading licences.

Photo Il Fatto Quotidiano