• Home
  • Research & Projects
  • Research areas

Internal Federalism


In the field of internal federalism, the CSF has focused on monitoring institutional reform (through the constitutional reform and the introduction of Metropolitan Cities by the Delrio Law) and on the developments and delays in fiscal federalism, whenever possible, from a comparative European perspective. Part of the work carried out has been collected – as stated in last year’s Programme Guidelines – in the report Italy 2016: Proposals for a Federalism that Is Still Possible (available in Italian).

Its 2017 activities will obviously be influenced by the outcome of the constitutional referendum held on December 4th [NB: the Guidelines were approved on 27.10.2016]. The task of a centre such as the CSF is not to take sides but to work towards analysing the content of the reform (and the referendum) in depth and contributing to the respective debate (and vote) in a way that is well informed and responsible regarding a complex, multi-faceted matter.

If the constitutional reform enters into force, the CSF intends to examine a variety of areas: the tasks of the new Senate and the redefinition of the relations between the different territorial levels, including relations with the European Union. If the reform is not approved, it will, in any event, raise the question of what institutional setting and framework for the allocation of resources are the most appropriate within a system where there are several levels of government, warding off the temptation of anachronistic re-centralisations. The "best use" of the new Metropolitan City would remain, in any case, a theme of particular importance.

The topic of how to most effectively and efficiently allocate resources to the numerous territorial levels, including adequate accountability at all levels, both as regards revenues and expenditures, is specific to federalism. The search for a new balance among the different levels, while being bound to a balanced budget, is a topic the CSF will continue to examine. Whether and how decentralisation can still play a positive role in economic development merits further consideration, even considering the likelihood of a differentiated regionalism framework.

A comparative analysis is also essential to define the most suitable multi-level internal structures. This is what has given rise to CSF’s interest in the functioning, problems and proposals for reform in other European federal states also in light of recurring autonomist and independentist tensions (from Catalonia to Scotland, after the outcome of the referendum on Brexit), which may be able to find an anchor in the European framework and a “peaceful model” against destructive secessionist forces in federalism.