A report from CONCORD Italia on Italy’s reform of the development cooperation law.

From CONCORD Italia:

Last Friday, the reform of the Italian law on development cooperation reached the Council of Ministers for its approval. After 27 years, the bill signed by Deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli will substitute the current obsolete legislation setting a new course of Italian foreign policy in the field of development aid and international cooperation. After this first approval the bill will taken to the parliament chambers for amendments and final approval.

The most important change will be the creation of a national Agency (AICS), modeled on similar European structures (such as the DFID, ADF, etc). An organization that will operate under the direction of CICS, the Interministerial Committee for Economic Cooperation and Development, chaired by the Prime Minister and composed of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Minister, Ministers of Economy, Environment, Defence and Development. The law establishes the stabilization of a deputy minister for development cooperation within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will change its name to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
The main national NGO networks have expressed their satisfaction for the historical step, although all emphasize the need to carefully assess the text that will be approved in the parliament chambers. NGOs have already pointed out their main concerns:
• a competent and efficient Agency,
• the establishment of a Unified Fund bringing together all national resources of development cooperation,
• a three-year planning document on the national development cooperation policy,
• the strengthening of Parliament powers of direction and control on strategies, policies and activities,
• the recognition of the role of volunteering in international cooperation,
• the creation of a permanent body (National Council) for multi-stakeholders (CSOs and other actors) consultation and coordination on national development strategy and policies.
Finally, one of the most controversial points of the text is related to the recognition of the private sector and corporations as potential actors in development cooperation. Deputy Minister Pistelli talked about a potential for the national economy and stressed that every euro invested in co-operation will return 2.7 euros within 5 years. NGOs have called for setting up specific rules for the involvement of for-profit actors as the ones already in place for CSOs. The debate about the risks of ‘privatization of development’ is now more open than ever.