OECD Reviews of Regulatory Reform: Regulatory Reform in Italy 2001

OECD's 2001 review of regulatory reform in Italy. It finds that starting later than many countries, Italy devoted the 1990s to "catching up" with the leading OECD countries in economic and governance reforms. The scope, speed and consistency of structural reforms by multiple governments were remarkable. Accumulated rigidities and practices of decades were re-assessed, and many rejected. Awareness of the excessive role of the state in the economy led to broad policy and institutional changes in favour of transparency, public sector efficiency, and market competition. By 1999, Italy’s privatisation programme was among the largest in the OECD.

Reform of Italy’s regulatory state is a formidable task, but early results, such as reduced red tape and stronger accountability of the public service, are appearing. Yet, enhancing the growth potential of the Italian economy -- following years of comparatively slow growth, relatively high inflation, low foreign direct investment, and a declining market share in world trade -- justifies faster and deeper regulatory reform to address the substantial reform agenda still outstanding. Long-standing income gaps between north and south could be narrowed by revitalised domestic markets. Better regulatory practices are particularly needed at regional and local levels, whose decisions increasingly decide Italy’s future. 

This review presents an integrated assessment of regulatory reform in framework areas such as the quality of the public sector, competition policy and enforcement, and market openness. It also contains chapters on sectors such as telecommunications, electricity, and railways, and an assessment of the macroeconomic context for reform. The policy recommendations present a balanced plan of action for both short and longer term based on best international regulatory practices.

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