Italy/ 3. Competence, decision-making and administration
3.3 Inter-ministerial or intergovernmental co-operation
At a horizontal level, inter-ministerial co-operation has been traditionally pursued by the Ministry of the Heritage also by means of memoranda of agreements signed, for instance, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the field of international cultural relations (see chapter 3.4), with the Ministry of Education for arts training and education in schools (see chapter 8.3.1), with the Ministry of Justice for carrying out cultural activities in prisons aimed at the rehabilitation of offenders (see chapter 4.2.8).
A key development in horizontal co-operation has been the participation, since 1999, of the Ministry for Heritage in the Inter-ministerial Committee for Economic Planning (CIPE) of the Ministry for the Economy: a strategic committee, which is also responsible for the allocation of EU Structural Funds to the Objective 1 regions in Southern Italy, under the Community Support Framework. In fact, if such regions have already benefited from several million EUR in capital investments in the cultural field under the 2000-2006 Plan, according to a recent survey by Fondazione Rosselli (Structural funds for culture in Italy: for cultural heritage, beyond cultural heritage, 2012) 476 million EUR out of the programmed budget of the Structural Funds for Italy's current Plan 2007-2013 have been allocated to pursuing the "priority themes" preservation of cultural heritage, development of cultural infrastructures and improvement of cultural services (see further).
As for vertical co-operation among government levels, common problems between the state and the regions have always been dealt with in the framework of the State-Regions Conference, also acting as a sort of "clearing house" for any controversy.
Since the end of the 1990s, though, two interesting developments for more rationally planned state / region cooperation should be singled out:
- About 50 multilateral Framework Planning Agreements ("Accordi di Programma Quadro") in the cultural field have been signed since 1996 by the Ministry of the Heritage with most of the 20 Regions. Financial resources are being made available by the Ministry of the Heritage itself, the Ministry for the Economy (CIPE), the regions, the local governments, in some cases by the European Commission, and by other private financial partners (the banking foundations, the Italian Bishop's Conference, etc…). Although most of these agreements are aimed at fostering partnerships in the field of cultural heritage and museums, some agreements in support of contemporary art and of the performing arts have been recently signed, as well.
- The second, quite relevant kind of state-regions cooperation has taken place in the framework of the above mentioned EU Structural Funds and Cohesion Policies. In fact, the related projects and activities – aimed at fostering the sustainable development of the five Objective 1 regions (Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Puglia, Sicilia) by upgrading their tourist attractiveness as well as the quality of life of the local population – are carried out by regional and local authorities in close cooperation with the Ministry of the Heritage's Regional Directions as far as the general planning process is concerned, whereas the Soprintendenze lend substantial support in technical assistance for restoration, research and training activities. According to Fondazione Rosselli's survey – as is often the case in a country like Italy, so significantly endowed with historic and artistic heritage – the biggest share of the 476 million EUR made available for culture through the Structural Funds under the 2007-2013 Cohesion Plan (82%) has been earmarked for the priority theme preservation, whereas themes like infrastructures and services are lagging behind, "thus showing a 'conservative' attitude, not taking into account the potential of innovative management of the Italian cultural heritage". Furthermore, whereas cooperation between MiBAC and the regions has been quite fruitful in improving planning skills and capacity building in public administration, as well as in fostering more advanced forms of state-local partnerships, according to the same survey, its effectiveness in improving management abilities and boosting spending procedures has been quite problematic: so much so that in June 2012, shortly before the end of the 2007-2013 Cohesion Plan, only 59% of the programmed European funds had actually been spent by the regions. In order not to lose such funds, the Ministry for Territorial Cohesion took over its subsidiary functions in January 2013, by directly elaborating a plan for cultural attractors through which these resources could be allocated to the more immediately feasible projects among those already adopted by the Objective 1 Regions. The biggest share of the funds are presently being employed to finally starting off the Great Plan for Pompeii (see chapter 4.2.2), which has been stuck by red tape for two years. The remaining financial resources have been allocated to the Royal Palaces of Naples and Caserta, the Archaeological Museum in Naples, and several other museums, castles and archaeological sites scattered in the five Objective 1 Regions.
Chapter published: 18-09-2013