Italy's Civil Service Reform

Clearer rules for investors

The reform of Italy’s public administration bureaucracy (Law 124/2015), one of the most important projects implemented by the Italian government for boosting the economic growth, gets under way.

The very first measures of the reform - that took effect starting from Friday, August 28 - include the so-called “silent consent” in public administrations (an official request from a public administration to another is considered to be granted if no answer is received within a certain period), and a clear deadline for “self protection measures”.

Silent consent - the rule changes the interaction between different public administration offices (including subjects that manage public services): a new mechanism is introduced for “silent consent” for approvals, opinions and authorizations of any kind.

The administration sends a request for an opinion to a public body, and the institution has 30 days to reply from the date of delivery. The deadline can be suspended only once for additional information and for up to 30 days. The so-called sensitive administrations (Culture and Health) and those in charge of environment, landscape and cultural protection will have 90 days to reply before silent consent kicks in. Once the deadline expires without answers, the silence is interpreted as a “yes”.
The rule is expected to speed up all administrative procedures.

Self protection - the new rule allows public administrations to annul their own acts if they turn out to be illegitimate. So far, this was possible within a “reasonable time,” a generic indication which created uncertainty and too much discretion. From now on, a deadline of 18 months applies. For example, a city administration will have 18 months from the date of approval to annul a building permit for self protection. Once the deadline expires without changes, the builder can get to work.

Both silent consent and self protection can maximise the effectiveness and efficiency of the Italian administration thus acting as foreign investment facilitation, as it can quicken investment processes.

Other simplification measures on behalf of businesses are in the works: the Government is committed to promptly adopt one or more decrees to pinpoint which procedures need the so-called SCIA (certified notification of the start of a new economic activity), those to which the silent consent principle is applicable and those that need express authorisation. The rule also provides for the obligation to notify the parties of the terms within which the administration is required to respond.
The reform also envisages a 50% cut in the terms for the completion of the procedures that regard works of general interest or the start of important production plants. For large works, special powers may be attributed to the Premier.