MILAN. "The bill on differentiated autonomy can be improved but not unconstitutional". This is the glimmer opened this morning by the Northern League minister for regional affairs and autonomy Roberto Calderoli, who spoke before the Lombardy regional council to report and "describe the path we are taking in Parliament" on the reform of autonomy, the historic workhorse of the League. The text, according to the minister, could be improved but "at least, for the first time someone has taken the trouble to address the problem". Seated in front of the council chamber in full force, next to the president and party mate Attilio Fontana, the minister rattled off the explanations to all the objections that are addressed to him on the autonomist project.
«Nobody will have more, nobody will have less», he explained, trying to free himself from the accusations of «wanting to split the country» and to carry out an unconstitutional bill: «I don't think Mattarella would have authorized the presentation of an unconstitutional bill to the Chambers. What I have read there is the Constitution», he added, underlining that «unlike those who argue that the law creates differentiated autonomy, differentiated autonomy is envisaged by our Constitutional Charter. Those who criticize demonstrate that they have read neither the Charter nor the text of the proposal». Then he added: «If something doesn't work, it's not the fault of the differentiated autonomy that doesn't exist yet. On the contrary, autonomy is the tool for overcoming those divisions present in the country». According to the minister: "With the intersection between fiscal autonomy, Pnrr, and fiscal reform with the enabling law, I believe that for the first time the South can also be put in the condition to go at a different speed than it has had up to now".
The minister, numbers in hand, tried to argue the thesis: «I saw the GDP of the South: in the 1950s it was about 52% of that of the Centre-North, in the 1960s above 60%. After two decades it had dropped to 56.2%, returning to its initial levels in 25 years. So any type of intervention can only improve the reality of the South". The minister then recalled that «80% of national funds have been assigned to the South and 20% to the Centre-North, of the European funds 70% to the Centre-South and 30% to the Centre-North. To which are added 4.6 billion allocated in 2021 for infrastructural interventions, which have never been used because the Regions have never found an agreement on how to distribute them. If we consider the allocation for the seven-year period 2021-2027, there are another 140 billion and we arrive at 223 billion, plus 4.6 plus the funds from the Pnrr ».
In the hearing of the minister, which lasted about half an hour, an attack on the opposition could not be missing: «I am sorry to see that those who had promoted the law and the referendum today are the major opponents of the law itself: the Gentiloni government signed with Zaia for Veneto, Maroni for Lombardy and Bonaccini for Emilia-Romagna on five matters. The first two mentioned were education and health care, the very ones that are most contested. In 2019, the Conte government accepted the request of Emilia-Romagna, Veneto and Lombardy for an extension from five to more subjects. Today they oppose it, but the Lega-5Stelle government contract envisaged the implementation of differentiated autonomy starting from a rapid approval of the agreements already signed. Everyone can change their mind but I won't change it." And, with reference to the matters subject to autonomy, he added: «In the face of a lack of initiative in the past, I took the initiative, because eleven Regions have requested further forms and conditions of autonomy. Those 11 Regions correspond to 74% of the population. In addition to the two referendums of 2017, where in Veneto 98% expressed themselves in favor and in Lombardy 96%. One cannot turn away from these requests».
"We want the truth to emerge about what this reform represents," is Governor Fontana's summary. «It must always be emphasized that it is foreseen in the Constitution. Let us not forget this premise, without which certain affirmations can be made».