Italian Council Ratifies Transparency Decree

19 May 2016

The Italian Council of Ministers has approved a Transparency Decree providing for access to information.

“The first Italian FOIA” was welcomed by Foia4Italy, a network of more than 30 civil society organizations that campaigned for the decree and logged 88,000 names on a petition for the decree.

Some improvements were made in the final version, Foia4Itally said. A text (in Italian) was published in several papers. It will enter into force six months after being published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale. The Italian National Anti-Corruption Authority will write guidelines.

Foia4Italy listed a number of key changes:

  1. the elimination of the “tacit refusal,” thus requiring the government to state reasons for the refusal of access,
  2. the elimination of the obligation for applicants to identify “clearly” the subject matter of the access documents,
  3. the improvement of provisions on charging requesters,
  4. the provision of non-judicial remedies, free and fast,
  5. the inclusion of operational guidelines that will guide the government in a homogeneous and rigorous application of the new rules.

The group, however, lamented the absence of clear and strict penalties in case of unlawful refusal of access. Concern also was expressed about the elimination of some publication obligations.

The exemptions are “too general,”the group said, with one protecting the “public interest inherent in the political and economic and financial stability of the state.” The exemption offers an “excuse for governments that do not want to do true transparency,” Foia4Italy commented.

“However, we are confident that, thanks to the ANAC guidelines and the method of dialogue with civil society opened with this decree, in the next six months (ie before the full operation of the rule), these profiles can be addressed and resolved,” the group said.

Looking ahead to implementation, the group made a variety of suggestions including monitoring and communication about the new policy.

The draft decree was circulated for non-binding reactions from Parliament, the State-Regions Conference and the Council of State before being returned to the legislative office of the Ministry and the Council of Ministers for final approval.

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