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Italy: Key Issues and Policies

image of Italy: Key Issues and Policies

This review underlines some important points of strength with respect to Italian SMEs and entrepreneurship, notably for medium-sized firms that very often excel in their market niches, have a strong propensity to business collaboration, as well as favourable access to finance. The review also looks at the challenges that lie ahead for Italy, hard hit by the global economic crisis, notably among micro and small firms. Recovery will mean, among other things, removing barriers to business growth, streamlining the complexity of the Italian tax system, and opening the business environment to competition, foreign direct investment and equity financing, as well as improving training and workforce skills.

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The local dimension to SME and entrepreneurship policy in Italy

Italy exhibits strong regional disparities, especially between the economically advanced North and the less developed South, and a decentralised governance structure, where most economic development competences are shared by the national and regional governments. The co-ordination of policy between national and regional authorities and the responsiveness of national programmes to differing local conditions are therefore very important in Italy. The State-Region Conference has proven to be a useful tool to coordinate national and regional programmes co-financed by the EU. However, there needs to be greater coordination among national and regional initiatives which aim at the same groups of enterprises. Some national programmes are also unequally distributed across regions, calling for mechanisms to distribute resources in better proportion to the target firm base. Regional authorities also have important responsibilities for business regulation, and the best strategies for administrative simplification should be rolled out at this level.

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