Tuesday

13th Nov 2018

Italian regions demand autonomy from Rome

  • Voter turnout was around 58 percent in the Veneto region (Photo: Leon Barnard)

Two of Italy's wealthiest regions voted in favour of greater autonomy in a referendum that is likely to test Rome as Spain grapple's with a Catalan independence movement.

In the non-binding referendums on Sunday (22 October), voters in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto demanded more powers from the central government.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Neither region is seeking to break away from Italy, but are instead asking for a greater say in the distribution of tax, in a move that is also likely to boost the far-right Northern League party ahead of general elections next year.

Presidents of both regions are members of the populist Northern League party, and say over 90 percent voted in favour of greater self-determination.

The combined wealth of the two regions hovers around 30 percent of Italy's economic output.

Lombardy pays out €54 billion in taxes every year for distribution to other parts of the country, while Veneto pays some €15.5 billion. These sums represent more than the regions receive back - in terms of services from national coffers in Rome.

Lombardy's president, Roberto Maroni, told Reuters news agency that unlike Catalonia, which wants to become a new nation state, his region intends to stay anchored within Italy.

"We remain inside the Italian nation with more autonomy, while Catalonia wants to become the 29th state of the European Union. Not us. Not for now," he said.

Veneto's president, Luca Zaia, made similar comments, noting that the vast majority of people in the region are demanding autonomy.

"What's won is the idea that we should be in charge of our own backyard," he said.

Aside from taxes, the two regions under the Northern League also want more say on immigration and security, and on other issues like infrastructure and education.

Just over 40 percent of voters went to vote in Lombardy, while some 58 percent turned up in Veneto.

Unlike in Spain, where Catalonia's independence vote on 1 October was declared illegal, Italy's constitution does not ban such polls.

European Parliament president Antonio Tajani told the Rome daily Il Messaggero, in an interview, that the Lombardy and Veneto referendums were legitimate.

"These two referendums are legitimate - that was not the case in Catalonia," said Tajani, a centre-right Italian politician.

The two regions face a daunting task ahead in their plans to renegotiate powers with Rome, given that some of the demands require constitutional changes.

Opinion

Commission employs double standards in Spain

The European Commission seems to accept Madrid's line on judicial independence and the constitution - whilst pushing Poland hard on the same issue.

Italy to hold elections on 4 March

Elections could mean the end of centre-left rule in Italy, with Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right party doing well in the polls.

EU's centre-right make Weber their man to replace Juncker

The centre-right EPP party's congress wanted to show unity - but divisions remain after the political alliance lined up behind Germany's Manfred Weber as their 'Spitzenkandidat' ahead of next year's European election.

News in Brief

  1. UK seeks swift use of new EU chemical weapons blacklist
  2. Barnier briefs EU ministers: intense negotiations continue
  3. Romanian minister preparing EU presidency steps down
  4. Finland says Russia possibly behind GPS jamming
  5. German AfD leader under fire for Swiss campaign funding
  6. Seehofer announces he will step down as CSU party leader
  7. EU condemns elections in Russia-occupied eastern Ukraine
  8. German Greens pick two top candidates for EU election

Opinion

On Armistice Day, EU is still best gift we can give our children

While young people fought each other in 1918, young people in 2018 travel to study together under the Erasmus programme. But there is a risk of limiting our commemoration to representing the past through just speeches, museum exhibits and visits.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Romanian leaders trade jibes over upcoming EU presidency
  2. EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press
  3. EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name
  4. Fear of nationalist surge marks European memorials
  5. Liberals ally with Macron for election, but no candidate yet
  6. Revealed: Link between MEPs CO2 votes and domestic car jobs
  7. All Quiet on the Eastern Front?
  8. Merkel and Brexit in spotlight This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us