Monday

19th Aug 2019

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.

Orban praises von der Leyen after first face-to-face

The EU Commission president-elect said she had a "good talk" with Hungary's controversial premier. Orban returned the praise, saying said the former German defence minister "thinks with [a] central Europeans' head".

Von der Leyen aims to 'rebalance Europe'

The German EU Commission president-elect hopes to bridge divisions within the EU, as she meets with EU leaders setting up her team of commissioners.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests
  2. Is Salvini closing just harbours or also the rule of law?
  3. No-deal Brexit would seriously harm UK, leaked paper says
  4. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  5. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  6. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'
  7. EU has 'zero incentive' to break open 'trilogue' deals
  8. Denmark plans import ban on EU-approved pesticide

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us