What is Differentiated Autonomy, advantages and disadvantages

differentiated autonomy in Italy

In recent times, thedifferentiated autonomy has become a central theme in the Italian political debate, presenting itself as one significant reform in the management of regional skills.

A process at the crossroads between administrative innovation and political challenge, which could redesign the structure of power between Central state and regions. While some see it as a path towards greater efficiencies and more management customized of services, others express concerns about possible inequalities e regional imbalances.

In this piece we will clearly and directly examine the contours of this reform, from its legal foundations to the potential impacts on the future of the country.

What is differentiated autonomy, simply explained

THEdifferentiated autonomy It's a concept that may seem complex, but is actually quite intuitive.

This is a process that allows ordinary statute regions to obtain greater powers e skills in specific areas, unlike what happens for special statute regions. Basically, every region that joins this process can manage some subjects in a more autonomous and personalized way, Such as'education, Health and infrastructure, which would otherwise be the responsibility of the Central state.

The basic idea is to give the regions the possibility of responding in a more comprehensive manner effective e appropriate to the needs and peculiarities of its territory.

What is the difference between Regions with Ordinary Statute and Regions with Extraordinary Statute

The Italian regions are divided into two main categories: Regions with Ordinary Statute and Regions with Extraordinary Statute. These two types of Regions differ based on the regulations that regulate their organization and competences.

Regions with Ordinary Statute (RSO)

The Regions with Ordinary Statute they are the majority of the Italian regions and all but five are part of them. These Regions follow the regulatory framework defined by the Italian Constitution. The powers and competences of the Ordinary Statute Regions are established by constitutional law and include issues such as:

  • regional order
  • education and research
  • Health
  • culture
  • agriculture
  • forests
  • waters
  • building
  • city ​​planning
  • transport
  • communication
  • work
  • business
  • industry
  • foreign trade
  • cooperation
  • social care
  • civil protection
  • administrative police

Furthermore, they have legislative and administrative autonomy within the limits established by the Constitution.

Regions with Extraordinary Statute (RSS)

The Regions with Extraordinary Statute in Italy are represented by:

  • Valle d'Aosta
  • Trentino Alto Adige
  • Friuli-Venezia Giulia
  • Sicilia
  • Sardinia

A special statute region enjoys a statute that gives it a greater degree of autonomy than the Ordinary Statute Regions. Its special status is the result of an agreement between the Italian State and the Region itself.

The agreement provides particular skills and greater autonomy legislation in areas such as education, culture and language. Furthermore, the Region with Extraordinary Statute has specific legislation which may differ from that of the other Regions.

In essence, while the Regions with Ordinary Statute follow the general rules established by the Italian Constitution, the Regions with Extraordinary Statute they have greater autonomy and specific powers in some areas.

The legal bases of Differentiated Autonomy

The foundations ofdifferentiated autonomy have their roots in Italian constitution, precisely in the article 116, third paragraph. This article establishes that ordinary statute regions can acquire particular forms and conditions of autonomy.

The goal is to take the different into account historical, linguistic and cultural characteristics of the regional territories. In other words, the Constitution allows these regions to manage certain matters autonomously, recognizing and enhancing their own specificity e identity. It is a mechanism that aims to guarantee greater administrative efficiency, respecting local diversity and needs within a framework of National unity.

Further forms and particular conditions of autonomy, concerning the matters referred to in the third paragraph of article 117 and the matters indicated in the second paragraph of the same article in letters l), limited to the organization of justice of the peace, n) and s), may be attributed to other Regions, by State law, on the initiative of the Region concerned, after consulting the local authorities, in compliance with the principles referred to in article 119.

Article 116

What does the bill on the differentiated autonomy of the Regions provide?

Il bill (dl) Calderoli on the differentiated autonomy of the Regions with ordinary statute is a natural provision procedural, designed to implement the reform of Title V of the Constitution of 2001. Consisting of 11 articles, the bill outlines the legislative and administrative procedures necessary to apply the article 116, third paragraphof the Constitution. Key points from the text include:

  • Initiative of the Regions: requests for autonomy start from the Regions themselves, after consulting local authorities.
  • 23 subjects of expertise: among these the protection of health,education, the sports,Classic ,the energy, the transport, culture and foreign trade. Of these, 14 are defined by Essential Performance Levels (Lep).
  • Determination of Lep: the Lep, which define the minimum level of service uniformly guaranteed across the national territory, will be established starting from a survey of the historical expenditure of the State in each Region.
  • Transfer of functions: this will happen only after the determination of the Lep and in compliance with the resources available in the budget.
  • Control room: a body composed of all the competent ministers, assisted by a technical secretariat, to coordinate the process.
  • Timing: within 24 months of the entry into force of the bill, the Government will have to issue legislative decrees to define the Lep. The State and Regions will have 5 months to agree on the agreements, which could last up to 10 years.
  • Safeguard clause: extends the law also to regions with special statutes and autonomous provinces, providing for a substitute power for the government in the event of non-compliance.

The regions involved with differentiated autonomy and areas of competence

At the moment, the regions who have expressed the desire to make use of differentiated autonomy are the Veneto, Lombardia andEmilia Romagna. These regions, through the process of differentiated autonomy, aim to gain greater control over several important matters.

Among these, sectors such aseducation, fundamental for the development of educational programs suited to local specificities; there Health, for a more efficient organization of regional health services; and the infrastructure, for the creation of works that better respond to territorial needs. Other areas of expertise include Research, work, culture andClassic , each of which represents a crucial aspect for the progress and well-being of regional communities.

The advantages and disadvantages for the Northern and Southern regions

THEdifferentiated autonomy carries with it a number of potential benefits for the Northern regions, such as Veneto, Lombardia andEmilia Romagna, who started this process.

Between these possible advantages, stand out:

  1. Greater efficiency in public services: regions can adapt services to local needs, improving effectiveness.
  2. Decision-making autonomy broader: greater freedom to make decisions without the constant supervision of the central state.
  3. Attractiveness for investments and businesses: greater autonomy could make these regions more attractive for new investments and business activities.

Nonetheless, they also exist concerns regarding the disadvantages, especially for the southern regions.

These include:

  1. Increase in inequalities regional: autonomy could increase the gap between North and South, favoring the richer regions.
  2. Decrease in efficiency in resource management: There may be a decline in efficiency in the distribution of resources, with regions less prepared to manage new skills independently.
  3. Additional costs for businesses and citizens: new taxes or charges could be introduced to support the additional competences of the regions.

In summary, differentiated autonomy could have important implications management improvements e growth opportunities for some regions, but also significant challenges and possible inequalities between different areas of the country.

Advantages for the RegsNorthern ions

Northern regions, such as Veneto, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna, could benefit from differentiated autonomy:

  1. Efficiency of Public Services: The ability to directly manage services such as education and healthcare could lead to solutions better suited to local needs, increasing effectiveness and reducing waste.
  2. Decisional Autonomy: By having more control over regional resources and policies, these regions could accelerate decision-making processes, better adapting them to their specific economic and social realities.
  3. Attractiveness for Investments: More autonomous management could make these regions more attractive to investors and entrepreneurs, thanks to policies tailored to the local economic fabric.

Disadvantages for the Northern Regions

Despite the advantages, there are also possible disadvantages for the Northern regions:

  1. Management of new responsibilities: Taking on new responsibilities requires adequate administrative capacity. Inefficiencies or errors in management could have negative consequences on the performance of services and the management of the Covid 19 pandemic has shown that northern Italy, with numerous privatisations, has serious difficulties in emergency managementFurthermore, autonomy could stimulate new investments even where not necessary, with an incentive to the phenomena of construction for speculative purposes as has already happened in various regions of northern Italy
  2. Additional costs: To finance new skills, it may be necessary to introduce new taxes or charges, influencing the local economic fabric.

Advantages for the Southern Regions

Differentiated autonomy could also offer opportunities to the southern regions:

  1. Greater attention from the state: The autonomy of the Northern regions could lead to a redistribution of state resources, with a possible greater support for the southern regions.
  2. Efficiency incentives: The need to compete with more autonomous regions could stimulate the South to improve the management and efficiency of its services.
  3. Development of Tailored Policies: Southern regions could benefit from specific policies to address their unique economic and social challenges.

Disadvantages for the Southern Regions

However, differentiated autonomy also presents risks for the South:

  1. Increase in inequalities: If the Northern regions prosper more, the economic and social gap with the South could widen.
  2. Loss of Fiscal Resources: The ability of Southern regions to generate tax revenues could be negatively affected by the reallocation of resources in favor of the North.
  3. Aggravation of financing with the LEP: the calculation of the resources to be allocated based on what has been spent in previous years could worsen the situation in the south. Every year the south proceeds with cuts even to essential services, such as the stop to mutual assistance drugs from September to December, therefore he would receive less funds since he spends less
  4. Challenges in Competence Management: Taking on new skills without adequate resources or experience could be problematic for southern regions.

The future path of differentiated autonomy

The path towards the effective implementation ofdifferentiated autonomy it is still full of important stages and crucial decisions. The Calderoli bill, after receiving the approval of Senate, is now moving towards House of Representatives, where the text, already modified in committee and in the Chamber, will be further examined and potentially amended.

Le subsequent phases provide a series of procedural steps e negotiations, with a time horizon of 24 months for the adoption of the legislative decrees that will establish the Essential Performance Levels. Once these criteria have been defined, the State and Regions will have 5 months to reach an agreement on specific agreements, which may have a maximum duration of 10 years. This process will be monitored and coordinated by a control room, ensuring compliance with the rules and objectives set.

La safeguard clause, included in the eleventh article, represents a security mechanism to preserve thelegal and economic unit of the country, allowing the government to intervene in the event of non-compliance by the regions or other local authorities, especially in relation to civil and social rights guaranteed throughout the national territory.

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Written by Gennaro Marchesi
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