Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Fiscal federalism and equalization design under the growing public finance constraint: a case of Italian municipalities

Brugnano, Carmela and Ferraina, Giuseppe and Loi, Francesca and Minzyuk, Larysa and Nitti, Marianna (2020): Fiscal federalism and equalization design under the growing public finance constraint: a case of Italian municipalities.

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Recently, the issue of federalism has turned at the centre of the political debate in Italy. It is basically due to the growing demand of rich northern regions who in 2018 laid down the requests to exercise additional functions retaining a more significant part of revenues that the central government collects in their territories. Another reason for attention to this issue is that the long period of public finance consolidation in Italy (2011-15) put the implementation of fiscal federalism to a standstill. There is a growing demand to ascertain the measure to which this implementation has been biased o remained undone. This paper focuses on this second issue investigating to which extent the design of fiscal federalism reform has been applied to the Italian municipalities with a special focus on the equalization system. The paper first proposes a review on the evolution of public finance setting in Italy before the crisis (2008-09), considering the decentralization process in the 1990s and the Constitutional reform of 2001 followed by the enabling law 42 in 2009. Then it looks at the period of fiscal consolidation after the financial crisis in 2011 focusing on the burden of adjustment measures imposed to Italian municipalities. Finally, it tries to summarize the contradictions that the overlapping of two contrasting political agendas – the centralization of public finance under fiscal consolidation and the ongoing fiscal federalism reform – created for the equalization system of municipalities.

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