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Development Cooperation reform under way – A government priority once again, says Letta

The Development Cooperation reform is under way – another important and significant “segment” of our country’s “Europeanisation” and the fruit of a bipartisan parliamentary debate. The Council of Ministers has approved the bill containing “General provisions governing international Development Cooperation” and envisaging a systematic up-date of the system, after 27 years. The draft reform include a new framework reflecting the organisations, instruments, modes of intervention and principles of reference that have developed in the international community. At the same time, it would bring our system into line with the main models adopted in EU partner countries. “An important and long-awaited reform that expresses the high priority we once again want to give to Development Cooperation”, underscored Prime Minister Enrico Letta when he announced the bill to reform Law 49 of 1987, the legislation currently governing cooperation in Italy.

The reform will bring us into line with the EU, says Pistelli

A reform that will bring the snapshot of Italian development from the “black and white” of 27 years ago to the “digital image” of the 21st century. And a reform that will bring Italy into line with the rules and resources employed by other major European countries who are ahead of us in this field. This was how Deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli described his satisfaction at the approval of the bill to reform Law 49/1987. More than a reform, it is the draft of a new law for Development Cooperation, explained Pistelli, who hoped that “Parliament will collaborate by examining the bill promptly and carefully. This would enable us to meet a commitment taken by Prime Minister Letta himself”. The commitment to equip Italy, as quickly as possible, with a new cooperation law.

“The reform has not fallen newly minted from the skies but is the fruit of a long and in-depth debate”, explained the Deputy Foreign Minister. Its true innovation lies in “the creation of an operational structure, the Italian Development Cooperation Agency, along the lines of other European countries”. The Agency “will not be a slow-moving barge body bound by red tape. It will be a cutter: agile and swift, making our spending in this field even more fruitful”.

New governance for growth and sustainable development

The bill outlines a new governance structure for the cooperation system. Policy coherence, consistency and coordination will be overseen by the Interministerial Committee for Development Cooperation (ICDC), a steering organisation made up of representatives of the various departments responsible for Development Cooperation issues and initiatives. Since cooperation is defined as “an integral part of our foreign policy”, the Foreign Ministry, in the person of the deputy minister with delegated responsibility for the issue, will have the task of coordinating this new, unified system. Development Cooperation resources, which at present are divided among the budgets of the various ministries concerned, will be set out in a specific Budget Annex, making them more transparent.

Italian Cooperation Agency to be set up

The new operational structure, the Italian Development Cooperation Agency, meets a need expressed vigorously by the organisations operating in the cooperation sector and included in reform proposals advanced by parliament. It will make it possible to enhance the skills and expertise already present in the cooperation sphere and attract new ones. And, thanks to the greater flexibility envisaged, it will enable cooperation bodies to try out today’s more innovative cooperation methods and models, which are not compatible with the current legislative framework. The Agency will be light and streamlined – a cutter, compared with the number of agencies in other partner countries. For large-scale or more demanding initiatives, the Agency will work alongside the Foreign Ministry in a dedicated joint committee.

Participation by Parliament

Lastly, the reform also envisages participation by Parliament, which performs guidance and monitoring functions with respect to the three-year planning document. Participation is also envisaged for the National Conference, a discussion and consultation body that will place the dialogue between public and private sector actors, as envisaged by the Milan Forum in 2012, on a more stable footing.