EU Commission questions Rome's handling of motorway dispute

ROME, Jan 29 (Reuters) - The EU Commission has raised questions over Italy’s handling of its dispute with infrastructure group Atlantia, asking Rome to clarify a series of past moves in a letter to be sent in coming days, newspaper Corriere della Sera reported on Friday.

The letter is Brussels’ initial reply to complaints lodged in past months by minority shareholders in Atlantia, which claim the government’s actions - including that Atlantia sell down its stake in motorway unit Autostrade per l’Italia - infringe European Union rules.

Atlantia and the Italian government have been at loggerheads since 2018 after the deadly collapse of a bridge in the port town of Genoa which was managed by Autostrade.

In the letter, the Commission casts doubt on the fairness of measures approved by Italy in December 2019, which make it easier and less costly for the government to revoke concessions to operate motorways, Corriere said, citing the letter.

“The rule changes, introduced in the decree, could represent restrictions to freedom on the internal market , in particular the freedom of capital circulation,” the Commission is quoted as writing.

Commission and Italian government officials were not immediately available for comment on the report.

The Commission also asks Rome for the reasons of the new rules, given their approval was unexpected and might not guarantee legal certainty.

Reporting by Giulia Segreti; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise