EDITORIAL - Prof. Stelio Mangiameli - Director of the ISSIRFA.
The results of the referendum of 4 December creates the basis for a different conclusion of the transitional institutional phase of Italian Regionalism, marked by the legislation produced during the crisis.
The referendum stopped a shift towards the centralisation of legislative powers and State control over public financial resources, counterbalanced by the participation in central power through a Senate representing the Regions and Local Governments. So the constitutional structure remains as outlined in 2001.
What remains open-ended, as already occurred in 2001, are the issues about the coordination of functions between State and Regions, and in particular, the coordination of legislative powers. As a result of the lacked implementation of Article 11 of Constitutional Law no 3 of 2001, Constitutional Case Law had established a link based on the principle of fair cooperation on the occasion of the application of the principle of subsidiarity, through the State-Regions conference system.
After the attempt to reform the Senate, the idea of introducing a chamber of the Regions seems to have been set aside; but also the possibility of coordinating the legislative function through the conference system no longer appears to be sustainable.
In this situation, the implementation of the provision of Article 11, with "the participation of representatives of the Regions, Autonomous Provinces and Local Governments in the Parliamentary Committee for regional matters", remains the best way for giving rise to a coordination of legislative functions, precisely because the cooperation occurs directly on the legislative formulation of the State principles.
In this way it will be possible also to put the concurrent legislative powers in the right perspective. Suffice it to consider that the problems of legislative concurrence did not depend on the excessive differentiation among the Regions but rather on the total absence of the State legislator who, by laying down the fundamental principles, sets a coherent unitary framework.
Separate reflections are to be made on the concurrent matter of "coordinating public finance" that, during the crisis, justified all forms of intervention by the Government. The Constitutional Court justified this exercise of power and, in some cases, even emphasized the weight of the limitations that the coordination of public finance determined in terms of cuts to resources, to the point of not even covering the administrative functions assigned to the Regions. Only recently has the constitutional judge started to review the case law on this subject, with Judgment no. 10 and no. 129 of 2016.
However, it would be a good thing if the exercise of State powers on the coordination of public finance were to be brought back within the constitutional confines laid down in Article 119. Hence, it would be necessary at the same time to think of reviving the possibility of fiscal federalism without which the political autonomy of the Regions remains a claim rather than a fact.
The Italian Regions appear to be the bearing structure of our legal order, which cannot be reduced to the ranks of a large local government. The construction of an efficient regionalism that is capable of enabling our Country to compete at the international and European level still needs to be completed.
In this connection, will we have to reconsider the organization and functioning of the Regions, but above all of the State and of its Administration that is overly intricate and not at all functional. The need for regionalising the State is still a topical need; the State and the Regions can cooperate only if their structures are such that their constitutional prerogatives are respected. Indeed the State is actually one side of the coin of the Republic while the Regions are the other side of the same coin.