As of 11 October 2020, the EU Regulation 2019/452 of 19 March 2019 (“Regulation”) on the control of foreign direct investment is directly applicable in Italy. The aim of the Regulation is to establish a common system among Member States of the European Union in order to monitor foreign investment.

The legislation is the result of a geopolitical framework marked by the desire to exercise greater control over economic activities within member countries, in the light of certain economic changes. Even more recently, concerns have been raised by multiple parties concerning activities carried out by non-EU actors – including governments of foreign countries – who could have taken advantage of the economic shock resulting from the pandemic to acquire critical businesses and activities in the EU for small amounts, given the EU’s current economic vulnerability.

In its Communication of 13 March 2020, the Commission stated that “Member States must be vigilant and use all available instruments at EU and national level to prevent the current crisis from leading to a loss of critical resources and technologies”. Among them, the Commission included, in a note of 26 March 2020, in particular (but not exclusively) those related to the health care supply chain.

According to Article 4 of the Regulation, among the factors to be considered in determining whether a foreign direct investment may affect security or public order, their potential effects may be taken into account on the following sectors:

  • critical infrastructure, whether physical or virtual, including energy, transport, water, health, communications, media, data processing or storage, aerospace, defence, electoral or financial infrastructure, and sensitive facilities, as well as land and real estate crucial for the use of such infrastructure;
  • critical technologies including artificial intelligence, robotics, semiconductors, cybersecurity, aerospace, defence, energy storage, quantum and nuclear technologies as well as nanotechnologies and biotechnologies;
  • supply of critical inputs, including energy or raw materials, as well as food security;
  • access to sensitive information, including personal data, or the ability to control such information
  • the freedom and pluralism of the media

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