The Olbia Special Economic Zone (SEZ)

One of CIPNES's strategic actions for boosting the economy of Olbia and Gallura is focused on the development of the Sardinian SEZ. The Special Economic Zone will be fully operational from 2023 in the areas of the Olbia production district managed by CIPNES. There are 150 hectares. The Industrial Consortium is at the service of companies - operating and willing to invest in Olbia - providing all the informations. Until 30 November 2022 there is the opportunity to express interest in creating investments. There are numerous fiscal and administrative advantages for companies.


SEZs (Special Economic Zones) are geographic areas with defined boundaries - mostly industrial zones or districts - in which companies enjoy special administrative and tax advantages, as an exception to ordinary laws.

Structured as territorial marketing agencies, the mission of the SEZs is to strengthen or revitalise the production system of underdeveloped or depressed areas, both by supporting existing companies and by attracting new investors, particularly international ones.

There are over 5,000 active SEZs in the world, according to an Ispi analysis. The most complete and up-to-date dossier on their usefulness is that of the United Nations, published in 2019 in English.

For Italy, the SEZs are one of the tools through which, also with the use of the considerable funds of the NRRP, to make the Mezzogiorno attractive and competitive.

There are eight SEZs established in Italy: Abruzzo, Calabria, Campania, Ionica Puglia Basilicata, Adriatica Puglia-Molise, Eastern Sicily, and Sardinia. Sardinia's is polycentric; Gallura has been allocated 180 hectares in the areas managed by the Cipnes Gallura industrial consortium

The ZES and the port of Olbia
. The SEZs were established by Decree 91 of 2017, better known as the Mezzogiorno Decree, over the following years amended and supplemented several times. The Special Economic Zone 'is defined as a geographically delimited and clearly identified area (...), also made up of non-territorially adjacent areas, as long as they present a functional economic nexus, and which includes at least one port area (...)'. The port for the Gallura areas of the ZES is that of Olbia, both at Isola Bianca and at the Cocciani Industrial Pier. (Decree Law 91 of 2017 converted, with amendments, by Law 123 of 2017)

Duration of the SEZs. A decree of the President of the Council of Ministers - number 12 of 2018 - determines the modalities for the establishment of the Zes, their duration, the criteria governing their access and special conditions of benefit, and the coordination of objectives. The decree defines the duration of the SEZs: it cannot be less than 7 years and more than 14 and can be extended up to a maximum of a further seven years at the request of the Regions. (dpcm number 12 of 2018).

Governance of the SEZs. The Budget Law 2020 stipulated that the Steering Committee of the SEZs be headed by an Extraordinary Commissioner. (Law 160 of 2019, Article 1, paragraph 316).

Powers of the Commissioner. In 2020, with Decree Law 76, the Government defined and specified the tasks of the Extraordinary Commissioner of the SEZs. The Commissioner

  1. a) ensures the coordination and the impulse, also operational, of the initiatives aimed at guaranteeing the attraction, settlement and full operation of productive activities in the SEZs
  2. b) acts as external referent of the Steering Committee for the attraction and settlement of productive investments in the ZES areas

  3. c) contributes in identifying, among the areas identified within the strategic development plan, the priority areas for the implementation of the plan, and takes care of their characterisation necessary to guarantee the productive settlements. (Decree-Law 76 of 2020, Article 46).


For the efficient and rapid management of the NRRP funds, the Government - with Decree Law 77 of 2021, better known as Simplifications - modified the governance of the Steering Committee, opening it up to the participation of a representative of the industrial consortia; regulated the way in which the Commissioner is appointed; attributed new powers to the Commissioner; introduced the Single Authorisation and other simplifications of an administrative and bureaucratic nature; and defined the role of the Cohesion Agency also for personnel. (Decree-Law 77 of 2021, Article 57).

Role of the Industrial Consortia in the SEZs. Decree 77 established that the Steering Committee of the SEZs is composed - in addition to the Extraordinary Commissioner of the Government, who chairs it, the President of the Port System Authority, a representative of the Region, a representative of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, and a representative of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport - also of 'a representative of the Industrial Development Consortia'

Commissioner as contracting station of the SEZs. Decree No. 77 established that - in order to ensure the most effective and timely implementation of the interventions of the NRP related to the infrastructuring of the SEZs - the Extraordinary Commissioner may assume the functions of contracting station until 31 December 2026 and operate with extraordinary powers as an exception to the provisions of the law on public contracts; the Regions must adapt their programming or reprogramming of the structural funds to the needs of the functioning and development of the SEZ.

Single Authorisation in the SEZs. Decree 77 introduced the Single Authorisation. The projects of economic activities and the establishment of industrial, productive and logistical activities within the SEZs, which are not subject to a certified notification of the start of activities, are subject to the Single Authorisation, in compliance with the regulations in force on environmental impact assessment. The Single Authorisation, where necessary, constitutes a variation to the urban and territorial planning instruments, with the exception of the regional landscape plan'. In the Single Authorisation "all the acts of authorisation, assent and nulla osta, however denominated, for the project to be approved or the activity to be undertaken converge" and is issued by the Extraordinary Commissioner of the SEZ, after the services conference (...) The issue of the Single Authorisation replaces any other authorisation, approval and opinion, however denominated, and allows the realisation of all the works, services and activities envisaged in the project.

Digital one-stop desk of the SEZs. Decree 152 of 2021, Article 11, introduced the digital one-stop desk for the submission of projects for new activities in the SEZs.

"At each extraordinary commissioner operates a digital one-stop shop to which the parties interested in starting a new activity subject to the single authorisation (...) submit their project.

The one-stop shop is also made available in English and operates according to the best technological standards (...). Pending the full operation of the digital one-stop shop, applications for a single authorisation are submitted to the one-stop shop for productive activities (Suap) with territorial jurisdiction


Besides the administrative advantages, companies operating in SEZs - or opening a business there - also enjoy tax advantages. The two main measures provided for by national legislation are outlined here, but regions and municipalities can provide further incentives for companies in SEZs. 

IRES reduced by 50 per cent. The Budget Law 2021 established that for businesses that 'undertake a new economic initiative in the SEZs (...) the income tax arising from carrying out the activity in the SEZ is reduced by 50 per cent starting from the tax period during which the new activity was undertaken and for the following six tax periods'. (Law 178 of 2020, Article 1, paragraph 173).

Reduced IRES also for companies already established. The Italian Revenue Agency, in a note, clarified that 'the 50 per cent facilitation is due not only to new companies setting up in SEZs, but "also to companies already operating in the territories concerned, as long as they proceed to start a new activity not previously exercised, from which the creation of new jobs derives'. (Italian Revenue Agency, reply 771/2021).

Tax credit of up to 100 million. Decree 77 of 2021 also established that the tax credit is 'commensurate with the share of the total cost of the assets acquired by 31 December 2022 up to a maximum limit, for each investment project, of EUR 100 million'. The tax credit is extended to the purchase of investment property. (Decree-Law 77 of 2021, Article 57).


Sardinia's Special Economic Zone (SEZ) - one of the tools with which the state wants to revitalise the economy of southern Italy - has now entered its operational phase: the minister for the South and Territorial Cohesion has in fact published the founding decree and the Cohesion Agency has published the first acts.

Conceived as 'a port network distributed along the coastal perimeter,' Sardinia's SEZ does not cover a single area but six areas, with as many ports, within the industrial zones of Cagliari, Gallura, Oristano, Sassari, Carbonia-Iglesias, and Ogliastra. A total of 2660 hectares are earmarked for administrative and fiscal advantages for companies.

180 hectares to Gallura. Gallura, in the production districts managed by Cipnes Gallura in Olbia, Monti and Buddusò, has been allocated 180 hectares, 150 of which in Olbia.

Enhancing the Economy of the Sea. As it is written in the Strategic Development Plan of the Sardinian SEZ, port SEZs "are by their very nature strongly intertwined with the 'economy of the sea' (blue economy), more directly with the sectors of goods handling, shipbuilding and the fishing industry. Sectors in which Gallura is a national leader: the former province of Olbia-Tempio - which includes 26 Gallura municipalities - is first in Italy in terms of employment and second in terms of added value.

Promoting the export of strategic sectors. The SEZ - the Strategic Plan clarifies - 'can create new added value and increase its multipliers not only in the blue economy, but in all those productive sectors interested in processing and exporting goods'. In the case of Gallura - in addition to agrifood, shipbuilding, and ceramics companies - the ZES will boost logistics, the cork and granite districts, and the tourism district.

Possible entries. Geasar, the management company of Olbia-Costa Smeralda airport, one of Sardinia's most important logistics hubs, has in fact already expressed its intention to join the SEZ if it is possible. The municipalities of Calangianus, for the cork district, and Arzachena, for the tourism district, which also includes the Costa Smeralda, have also expressed their willingness to join the SEZ

Operation. It will be the operational plan, drawn up by the extraordinary Commissioner of the SEZ for 2023, the Steering Committee, the Region, with the assistance of the Cohesion Agency, that will assess how to structure the Sardinian SEZ, from the participants to the sectors to be developed.

Olbia Sez Documents

Olbia SEZ Planimetry

General Management

General Manager
Dott. Aldo Carta

Desk SEZ

Support Service for Businesses and Territorial Development
Dott. Giampaolo Saba