George Anderson, President and CEO of the Forum of Federations, met with senior members of the Italian government to discuss federalism in a recent visit to Rome. The series of meetings by Mr. Anderson and Forum European Program Director Felix KnÃ¼pling were held with senior representatives of the Government of Italy, Italian parliamentarians and others to examine the future of federal reform in Italy. Fiscal federalism was one of the top issues on the agenda.
The new Italian government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, sworn into office on May 8, has placed high importance on implementing a form of federal system in Italy. In particular, fiscal federalism is a method that Mr. Berlusconi’s party, the People of Freedom, and his political allies, the Northern League and the Movement for Autonomy (of Sicily) are interested in adopting.
Mr. Anderson’s trip was also in preparation for a conference on federalism which the Forum will organize together with noted Italian constitutional law expert, Prof. Beniamino Caravita in the fall of 2008. Mr. Caravita is the Vice-President of the International Association of Centres of Federal Studies and President of the Osservatorio sui processi di governo e sul federalismo.
Among those Mr. Anderson met during his visit to Rome from June 12-13, 2008, were Italy’s Minister for Regional Relations, the Hon. Raffaele Fitto; and the State Secretary for Constitutional Reform in the Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri, the Hon. Aldo Brancher. The Forum delegation also met with members of the opposition Democratic Party, including Senator Enrico Morando, Coordinator of the party’s "Shadow Cabinet” and Senator Mariangela Bastico, responsible for Regional Relations. Mr. Anderson also had the opportunity to discuss issues of federalism with the Deputy Mayor of Rome, Senator Mauro Cutrufo; and members of the Political Science Faculty of Rome’s La Sapienza University.
Issues discussed during Mr. Anderson’s visit included fiscal federalism, division of competencies among national and subnational levels of government such as regions, states, provinces and municipalities. There were also discussions on the political representation of subnational governments in the national parliaments of federal states, federal transfer or equalization payments to support local services such as education, health, energy, scientific research, and civil protection, as well as the issue of the financing of cities and capital regions of federal countries.
The Forum of Federations is the global network on federalism, active on six continents and supported by the following partner countries all of them federal states: Australia, Austria, Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Mexico, Nigeria and Switzerland.