The governance of the pnrr and the government of Italy

The governance of the pnrr and the government of Italy
The governance of the pnrr and the government of Italy

The criticisms could not be missing. On May 31st, the Decree-Law n. 77, relating to the “Governance of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (Pnrr)”, which affirms the centrality of the premier in the government of the latter. Hence the criticisms (“Mario Draghi is acquiring too much power”). In reality, the Decree-Law responds to a systemic need, to put the country in a position to define and implement a Plan of historical dimensions (overall, 240 billion euros to be used within the next six years). A process of this size cannot be governed without adequate decision-making technology. Let’s see how things stand.

The Decree-Law defines a decision-making structure based on a clear assignment of powers and responsibilities. Since the success of the PNRR constitutes a national interest, it necessarily belongs to Mario Draghi, as premier (in fact, the first of equals) of the governing coalition, to ensure its consistency.


Within the Presidency of the Council, a control room has been set up, with a role of political direction and functioning with variable geometry, composed of the premier (who chairs it on a permanent basis) and the ministers competent from time to time on specific public policies in question. The control room is supported by a technical secretariat, whose task is to prepare decisions and follow their implementation. The premier is endowed with substitute powers in the event that one or the other administrative unit, involved in the implementation of the NRP, does not respect the schedule or does not pursue the established objectives. The premier also has the power to overcome the dissent of an administrative unit through an accelerated procedure which, after five days, allows the dispute to be submitted to the decision of the Council of Ministers (the body of political responsibility), thus neutralizing the powers of veto. Furthermore, a partnership consultative table has been set up with economic and social forces, with a consensual (sharing choices) and non-consociative (preserving vested interests) purpose. Every six months, the Presidency of the Council is required to send Parliament a report on the state of implementation of the NRP, as well as periodically inform the Conference of Regions. If the prime minister has the powers of direction, impulse and coordination of the NRP (powers which, more generally, are already celebrated by our Constitution, Art. 95), it is then up to the Ministry of Economy and Finance (Mef), and to the Department of General Accounting located within it, financially manage the Pnrr. A Central Service for the NRP has been set up at the Mef, which constitutes the national reference point for the implementation of the latter. The Minister of Economy and Finance, Daniele Franco, is recognized as the effective Deputy Prime Minister, the interlocutor of the European Commission, whose influence is strengthened by his participation in the Council of Economic and Financial Ministers (Ecofin), the body that it will share with the European Commission the judgment on the implementation adequacy of the various national relaunch and resilience plans.

Too much power in Mario Draghi? In reality, the Decree-Law provides for an organization of the governance of the NRP similar to that adopted by other countries, starting with France. But, above all, it is forced to make up for a delay in our country in strengthening its governance structures (a strengthening which had also been initiated by the important Law no. 400 of 1988), in order to adapt them to the logic of the supranational integration process. In fact, since the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, the European Union has entrusted the governance of strategic policies (starting with the economic and fiscal policy of the Eurozone) to intergovernmental institutions (of the European Council of Heads of Government and the Council of Ministers national). Whether we like it or not, intergovernmental governance has favored countries with stable and coherent governments, as well as led by a recognized premier, while it has penalized countries (like ours) without such governments. The pandemic has further shown how the efficiency of a government is the necessary (albeit not sufficient) condition for the effectiveness of its policies. Yet, Italian politics is divided between supporters of two models of government, both inefficient as well as illiberal. On the one hand, there are those who are nostalgic for the consociative government of the parties, in which the club-leaders (the oligarchs) decided outside the government (through personal transactions), then leaving the government with the task of formalizing those choices. The result is known, emptying of the institution-government and irresponsibility of decision makers (for example, towards public spending). On the other hand, there are those who are fascinated by the government of the charismatic leader, in which the leader receives his legitimacy exclusively from the “people”. The result is intuitive, replacement of the institution-government with its head, as in authoritarian regimes. A modern liberal democracy, on the other hand, is governed through institutions (and not through personal or charismatic relationships), institutions that must make decision and control possible.

In short, if the PNRR can help Italy to become a more modern and inclusive country, the governance of the PNRR will have to help it become a more efficient and responsible democracy. Between the “government of all” and the “government of one” there is a wide way to go.

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