(May 14, 2014) Italy’s Law 56 of April 7, 2014 (hereinafter Law 56) contains provisions on metropolitan cities, provinces, and the union and merger of municipalities. (Legge 7 aprile 2014, n. 56, NORMATTIVA). The purpose of Law 56 is to adapt the organization of territorial divisions of the country to the principles of subsidiarity, differentiation, and adequacy (art. 1 (1)). To that effect, the Law defines the different types of territorial divisions in accordance with set criteria, including: strategic development of the territory, efficient provision of public services, the infrastructure and communications networks, institutional relations, and the impact of European-wide policies (art. 1 (2)).
An important and innovative aspect is the combining of municipalities with the aim of jointly providing public services to their inhabitants (art. 1 (4)); the Law establishes the procedure to be used to accomplish the links between cities (art. 1 (6)).
Metropolitan cities, which are large municipalities, are to be governed by several levels of political bodies, including a metropolitan mayor, a metropolitan council, and a metropolitan conference (art. 1( 7)). The functions and responsibilities of these authorities are described in detail in the Law (art. 1 (8-10)). The Law sets different dates for the implementation of the new political structures and authorities. For example, the election of the metropolitan councils must take place on September 30, 2014 (art. 1 (15)), and on January 1, 2015, metropolitan cities supersede the current governmental structures in their respective territories (art. 1 (16).)
Concerning the provinces, the Law establishes their administrative structure, which includes a president of each province, a provincial council, and an assembly of mayors (art. 1(54)); the Law contains provisions specifying their roles and powers concerning the budget, legislation, and other important areas in their territories (art. 1 (55)).
The elections of the new authorities follow the principles of democratic representation (art. 1 (61)), direct and secret vote (art. 1 (62)), and election by a majority of the votes (art. 1 (64)).
Within three months from the entry into effect of the Law, and after consultation with the largest cities included in the new political divisions, the central government and the regions must identify the competences of the provinces and municipalities within each region and establish the allocation of human and financial resources (art. 1 (89-92)). The various regions must implement agreements on those allocations within six months from the entry into effect of the Law (art. 1 (95)). The Law establishes rules for transferring employees and financial resources and competences from one locality to another (art. 1 (96)).
The Capital City of Rome is governed by the rules applicable to the metropolitan cities included in the Law (art. 1 (101)), but with due consideration to its role as seat of the Italian constitutional bodies, foreign embassies and missions, the Vatican City, and international institutions (art. 1 (103)).
The Law also identifies activities that may be performed by united municipalities, including anti-corruption and transparency measures (art. 1 (110) (a & b)). Two of the most important consequences of this new form of association among municipalities around the country are the approval of a single budget for each set of united municipalities and the new population enumeration, which will include the populations of municipalities that under the new legislation have ceased to exist as independent administration units (arts. 1 (125) (a) & 126, respectively).
Otherwise, the constitutional provisions referring to the organizational structure of the country remain untouched, in their current text as amended by Constitutional Law No. 3, of October 18, 2001 (Legge Costituzionale 18 ottobre 2001, n. 3, NORMATTIVA). In particular, article 114 of the Italian Constitution provides that the Italian Republic is constituted of municipalities, provinces, metropolitan cities, regions, and the central state. According to the Italian Constitution, municipalities, provinces, metropolitan cities, and regions enjoy financial and budgetary autonomy (art. 119), which is implemented through Law No. 5, of 2009 (Legge 5 maggio 2009, n. 42, Delega al Governo in materia di federalismo fiscale, in attuazione dell’articolo 119 della Costituzione [Delegating Power to the Central Government Concerning Fiscal Federalism, in Implementation of Article 119 of the Constitution], NORMATTIVA).