Autonomy, Gelmini: “School must be kept out, no to the derby between North and South. Funds for everyone’s rights”

A method error. “The reform had to be shared with Parliament first.” But also a mistake of merit. “The essential rights of Italian citizens cannot be guaranteed without allocating the funds”. Mariastella Gelmini, vice president of the Action-Italia Viva group in the Senate and former minister of regional affairs and autonomies, leaves red and blue pencil marks on the Lega autonomist reform project. While Minister Roberto Calderoli presses to speed up the approval process in the CDM, the risk is to leave “the main stakeholders” behind, from the Chambers to the State-Regions Conference, Gelmini says. That she warns against the inclusion of education among the subjects subject to delegation: school “must stay out”.

Public administration, those untouchable mandarins between vetoes, delays and “little hands”. The Superintendencies case

Calderoli accelerates on the autonomy reform. Right to run?
«Calderoli guaranteed in a hearing to the Chamber that he would involve Parliament, the State-Regions Conference and local authorities in every step. We await the proof of the facts. As for the times: Salvini had promised autonomy to the first CDM, it seems to me that the plans have been revised… ».

Reading the law being maneuvered, it seems that the League wants to proceed in forced stages.
«With the budget law, where there is only the establishment of a control room of which there was no need, they actually took a year’s time. Their campaign promises collided with reality. I hope, once there is a text, that there will be an adequate discussion with all the stakeholders, with Parliament and with the Regions”.

As written, does the reform risk dividing the country in two?
«Autonomy is envisaged by article 116 and therefore forms part of a constitutional path. But the mistakes of the past cannot be repeated, with an ideological approach that reduces everything to a derby between North and South, to a challenge to grab resources. Autonomy must instead be a challenge to efficiency, simplification, measurement of the results of those who administer and the possibility for the citizen to evaluate them”.

How can this derby which would penalize the country be avoided?
«Following the path traced by the Draghi government: we must first define and finance the essential levels of services (Lep), the rights of citizenship, from healthcare to transport, without inequalities. This is the only way to think about autonomy and avoid alarmism».

The reform provides for a path to define the Lep within a year.
«The problem with the first Calderoli draft is that it envisaged the possibility of transferring Lep matters to the regions, at a historic expense, after one year. But in the manoeuvre, not a single euro has been allocated to ensure these rights. It’s not enough to set up yet another control room, which is just a way to buy time. All this risks causing a rift with the South which will lead to the umpteenth postponement of autonomy».

What else is needed?
“The government could have demonstrated its goodwill by approving, for example, the amendments that we presented with my colleague Carfagna to the budget law to finance the right to study, exactly as the Draghi government had done with nursery schools and transport for the disabled” .

In your opinion, what is the greatest risk you run?
«May the South see in this reform a way to exacerbate existing inequalities. An attempt to subtract resources instead of guaranteeing everyone the same essential services».

How should we proceed then?
“Approving in Parliament, even before the agreements between the Government and the Regions, a framework law that reaffirms respect for constitutional principles, the involvement of the conference system and the Chambers and which clearly indicates the prior need to define and finance the Lep”.

Among the subjects included in the reform there is also education. But doesn’t regionalizing school end up weakening it further?
«Education in my opinion must be excluded from differentiated autonomy. And in this sense we worked in the previous government with the agreement of the regions involved. The school is a right and a national service, to be guaranteed to all in a homogeneous way. Moreover, leaving it in the category of transferable subjects, as demonstrated by these years that have passed without the autonomy being implemented, means preventing the reform from really starting”.

What about Healthcare?
«Part of it has already been devolved to the Regions and the Lea (Essential Levels of Assistance, ed) must be updated at a national level. However, the sector suffers from another problem. In the manoeuvre, only two billion euros have been allocated for the sector which is not even enough to reimburse the increase in energy costs. The state of Italian healthcare, with endless waiting lists even for cancer patients and impossible checkups, would have deserved far more attention.

What kind of attention for example?
«With the Third Pole we had presented amendments to at least partially remedy the dramatic shortage of doctors and nurses. They’ve been canceled.”

Several governors of the Centre-South have asked for an equalization fund to be set up to compensate for any gaps due to the autonomy reform. Agree?
«The equalization fund can help to dilute this contrast between North and South which is poisoning the debate on autonomy. The last government has already set up one for infrastructure and it is a path that can be followed again”.

A year ago he argued that a few months would have been enough to give Rome a special statute but there is still no trace of the powers for the capital. Is it time to deal with it?
«The law was ready, then the government fell and it was not possible to move forward. Rome is one of the few European capitals not to see the rights associated with its status as capital recognized. I hope that this gap with other major international capitals, from Berlin to Paris, can be bridged as soon as possible. Rome is not and must not be outdone».


Autonomy, Gelmini: “School must be kept out, no to the derby between North and South. Funds for everyone’s rights”