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Italy: Legislation Easing Certification of Business Startups

(Aug. 11, 2016) On July 28, 2016, new legislation on the “certification of initiation of business activities” entered into effect in Italy. (Legislative Decree No. 126 of June 30, 2016, Implementing Delegated Powers for the “Certified Reporting of Initiation of Business Activities” (SCIA) (L.D. No. 126), GAZETTA UFFICIALE, No. 162 (July 13, 2016), NORMATTIVA (in Italian).) The new legislation establishes the legal framework for the procedures applicable to private business activities that do not require express authorization but that are subject to certification for their initiation. (Id. art. 1(1).) The new provisions also apply to companies that submit reports or requests to public authorities when they begin their activities. (Id. art. 1(1).)

The law identifies the activities that are subject either to a procedure entailing a simple communication or a certified reporting of their initiation (“SCIA,” in Italian) or to administrative silence (that is, the tacit authorization to a request when the respective administrative agency fails to provide a response within the established time period), as well as activities requiring express authorization to commence. (Id. art. 1(2).)   Private business activities not expressly identified in the new legislation or regulated by European, state, or regional legislation are excluded from coverage by the new provisions. (Id. art. 1(2).)

Handling of Data

In order to facilitate authorization of new business activities, the new law provides that administrative agencies must adopt unified and standardized forms for each type of procedure involved. (Id. art. 2(1).)   These forms must be published on the agencies’ websites. (Id. art. 2(2).) Interested parties must be given the option of creating a digital domicile for their communications with the relevant administrative agency. (Id. art. 2(1).) If the documentation to be submitted relates to a procedure previously carried out by another administrative agency, the new administrative agency must accept the data provided for the previous procedure. (Id. art. 2(2).)  All communications and reports provided in accordance with the provisions mentioned above must be acknowledged electronically by the relevant administrative agency. (Id. art. 3(1)(a)(1).)

Enhanced Powers of Regional Governments 

When local entities fail to comply with the requirements of the new legislation, the regional governments, at their own initiative or at the request of a citizen, must set a timeframe for local entities to comply. (Id. art. 2(3).) Local entities that persist in failing to comply with the requirements will be subject to administrative penalties. (Id. art. 2(5).)

Other Provisions

When the administrative procedures regulated by the new law refer to the protection of the environment, landscape, cultural property, health, or the public safety or national defense and the interested party has provided false statements, the relevant administrative agency may order the suspension of that party’s economic activities. (Id. art. 3(1)(b)(c).)

The institutional website of each administrative agency must contain a single digital window where interested parties may submit their SCIAs. (Id. art. 3(1)(c).)   Only one SCIA suffices for this purpose even if, based on the nature of the economic activities, more than one administrative authorization is required to perform an economic activity. (Id. art. 3(1)(c)(2).) In certain situations, the interested party may request that a single SCIA request cover multiple authorizations, e.g., in cases where other activities are being conducted simultaneously with those needing an SCIA or other administrative authorization or where an opinion of another administrative agency or different types of verification procedures are required for the activities. (Id. art. 3(1)(c)(3).)

The law also complements other legal provisions that regulate the institution of “administrative silence.” The lack of a pronouncement by an administrative agency in accordance with the procedures regulated by the new law, which implies a tacit approval of the interested party’s request, includes the failure of an agency employee to take timely action under his or her responsibility. (Id. art. 3(1)(e).)