Italy Unitary state



While rules governing fiscal federalism have been established, the country is beset by substantial restrictions on account of the current economic situation.

Although discussed at one time, the elimination of the intermediary level of local and regional authorities, the provinces, is no longer a current topic.

Nonetheless, some of them, most notably those with less than 300 000 inhabitants, will be eliminated, except for those with the specific status of autonomous province. The number of provinces would thus fall from 110 to 75 by 2016.

The importance of the municipalities and inter-municipal associations was reaffirmed with the establishment of around ten “città metropolitana” or metropolitan cities around the country’s largest urban areas. In addition, municipalities with less than 5 000 inhabitants must now share certain competences in order to generate substantial economies of scale.

With regard to local and regional authorities’ financial resources, the fiscal federalism rules introduced in 2009 gave greater autonomy than ever before to the regions. Still, local and regional authorities’ resources are in decline, particularly because of a property tax reform and a recentralisation of certain resources.

At the same time, large-scale programmes designed to reduce costs and improve the efficiency of the public administration have already been in place for several years which has oftentimes resulted in numerous cuts in the personnel of the sub-national authorities.

Local self-government in Italy:

Current policy reflects a move towards greater decentralisation, both in terms of the division of competences and of financial autonomy. Nonetheless, cost-cutting measures and a decrease in local and regional authorities’ own resources can be detrimental to local self-government in Italy. It should however be noted that the reforms were adopted by the old government and that new reforms are to be announced by the present government.


  • 22 December 1947: Italian constitution creating the regions.
  • 1968 to 1972: creation of 15 “ordinary” regions.
  • 3 December 1971: law on mountain communities.
  • 23 January 2001: law amending chapter V of the constitution (following a referendum) defining core powers retained by the state, with the remainder transferred to the regions.
  • 5 May 2009: law on the delegation of fiscal federalism to the government (budgetary federalism rule).
  • 7 April 2014: law containing provisions on metropolitan cities, provinces and the merger of municipalities:
    • metropolitan cities created
    • municipalities with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants forced to join inter-municipal cooperation structures
    • local public administration cost-cutting and efficiency programmes
    • reduction in local and regional authority budgets (centralisation of some revenues).