Differentiated autonomy, the points in favor and those against

Differentiated autonomy, the points in favor and those against

Differentiated autonomy

The Council of Ministers voted in favor of the bill on differentiated autonomy, presented by Northern League minister Roberto Calderoli. A much-discussed proposal, especially by economics and sociology experts, and on which the opposition threatens battle, now that it will have to be examined in Parliament for its approval.

What is differentiated autonomy? Who voted in favor of Calderoli's bill? Pros and cons Taxes Health Transport Work Education What does the differentiated autonomy designed by Minister Calderoli consist of? The Meloni government is evaluating the bill on the differentiated autonomy of the regions with ordinary statute, presented by the Northern League Roberto Calderoli. A highly contested proposal because it could widen the gap between North and South

What is differentiated autonomy?

Differentiated autonomy is nothing more than the recognition, by the State, of the attribution to a region with ordinary statute of legislative autonomy on matters of concurrent competence and in three cases of matters of exclusive competence of the State. Together with the powers, the regions can also withhold the tax revenue, which would no longer be distributed on a national basis according to collective needs.

This autonomy, granted by article 116 of the Constitution, has never been implemented above all due to the great economic and social differences between regions, which make the approval of laws in this sense particularly delicate and potentially harmful. And this is why, according to scholars and the opposition, Calderoli's bill could have disastrous consequences for the whole country, increasing inequalities between the northern and southern regions.

Who voted in favor of Calderoli's bill?

Before analyzing the critical points on which the reform could intervene, it is interesting to note the regional origin of the ministers who they approved the bill. Of these 25 people, including the Prime Minister, only 5 come from the South or from the islands, including two from Campania, one from Puglia, one from Sicily and one from Sardinia. Another 5 come from the centre, but precisely from Rome and one from Tivoli, also a municipality of Rome. And 15 from the North, in particular from Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, one from Liguria, two from Emilia Romagna and one from Friuli Venezia Giulia.

This division is also partly reflected in the map of regional presidents that are lined up for or against Calderoli's proposal. Those who come from the North, such as Attilio Fontana from Lombardy, Luca Zaia from Veneto and Giovanni Toti from Liguria are clearly in favor. While Vincenzo de Luca from Campania and Michele Emiliano from Puglia, together with Stefano Bonaccini from Emilia, raised the barricades against the bill.

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Pros and cons

In general, this is an economic stance . Those in favor of differentiated autonomy argue that withholding most of the tax revenue automatically translates into greater efficiency in the provision of services for their citizens. As Alberto Cirio, president of Piedmont, said in the press, autonomy would bring "the spending centers" closer together.

“It is history that demonstrates that the closer the relationship between the spender and the beneficiaries, the more effective spending is and there is less waste. It is a matter of knowledge of the territory and also of the control that citizens can exercise over politics”, explained Cirio, implying that efficiency and waste derive from disposable income and not from political choices. Furthermore, according to Cirio, it would be the only way to overcome the "historical expenditure criterion" and move on to that of "standard expenditure. Until now, the state paid for services provided to local authorities based on what had been spent in previous years, so whoever spent the most had the most. Now there will be a standard in the cost of services”.

However, before being able to exceed the historical expenditure, the expenditure of the essential levels of performance should be established, which must be guaranteed throughout the national territory. Something that has not yet been done in the twenty years that have passed since the approval of the constitutional reform that introduced autonomy.

The opponents, on the other hand, argue that differentiated autonomy necessarily entails a subtraction of huge resources from the community and the disruption of logistic services and infrastructures (such as transport, energy distribution, health or education), which due to their role in the functioning of the country system should necessarily have a unitary structure and a national dimension.

Furthermore, many explain that even the autonomous regions would be disadvantaged by the project. On the one hand, because the South is an essential market for the North, on the other, because the large differences within the same regions would be increased by the allocation of resources, which would in any case reward the richest and best organized parts.

Subtraction of tax revenue from redistribution across all territories would then violate the principle of economic and social solidarity contained in the Constitution, increasing inequalities between North and South, with a consequent social and economic collapse of the most disadvantaged territories which could easily throw the whole of Italy into crisis .

Finally, according to what economist Paolo Balduzzi wrote on Lavoce.info , at the moment there is no “objective or technical criterion that allows us to establish whether or not a region is able to do better than the state in the areas of competence that will be transferred. It therefore appears essential, and before any further legislative progress, to introduce tools for objective measurement of the historical results of the various regions in the various subjects".


While on the one hand those in favor argue that it is right to withhold the taxes of residents in the area, in order to use them to improve services, on the other hand those against it, as stated in Tomorrow , they will point out that it would not be correct to give the regions the taxes of those who reside in one place but accrue income in other regions . Furthermore, as already underlined, there are no certainties or studies that can say with certainty that the fragmentation of skills will improve the efficiency of services. When instead it could create serious problems as in the case of the management of the Coronavirus pandemic in Lombardy.

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Starting from the region administered by Attilio Fontana, it is impossible to forget the disastrous management of the emergency at the autonomous regional level, when Lombardy has not even managed to implement an effective system for booking vaccines. Problem solved only thanks to the use of the national postal service.

Furthermore, with a healthcare system managed at the regional level, those who are temporarily in other regions could have great difficulty in obtaining prescriptions and buying the medicines he needs. So already the prescription system could not become an exclusively regional competence.

Finally, for Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe foundation, in the Quotidianosanità , differentiated autonomy would give the "coup de grace to the national health system" by increasing "regional inequalities and legally legitimizing the gap between North and South, violating the constitutional principle of equality of citizens in the right to health protection".


As far as transport is concerned, those who are in favor of autonomy always maintain the same thing more or less, that is, that the regions with greater control over expenditure would be more efficient in implementing infrastructures, identifying the needs of citizens, thus guaranteeing more services.

Opponents, on the other hand, underline how transport managed by local authorities is already the one most at the center of citizens' criticism for inefficiency. Furthermore, autonomy would create problems for those urban centers that are located in one region, but revolve around cities located in other regions. As in the case of Verona, which has more links with Milan, or Terni and Grosseto which are more linked to Rome.


On the system of training and placement in the world of work, critics point out, many skills are already left to the regions, but this has not led to advantages or benefits, on the contrary, according to many, the employment system is particularly lacking.


Up Repubblica, Luca Bianchi, the director of the Svimez research center on the regional divide, criticized Calderoli's bill arguing that autonomy would seriously affect the school system with "a true separatist process" in which there would be "different programs at the regional, territorial recruitment systems and differentiated functioning" .

Criticism supported also by the sociologist  Chiara Saraceno in the  Stampa , according to which it would not be  "possible to leave the implementation of the constitutional task of the school to the various whether availability and local choices" , because already now "there is an unjust differentiation of the public educational resources offered on the national territory, not only between regions, but also within the same regions and cities" . Differences that "overlap social and contextual inequalities, instead of compensating for them".

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