Italy's aid reform spawns new agency

The flag of Italy. The country is poised to launch its new aid agency. Photo by: Debbie and Gary / CC BY-NC-ND

The Italian parliament has finally passed a new law that sets out an ambitious agenda for a comprehensive reform of Italian aid — and with it, the birth of a new development cooperation agency.

Entered into force last month, the new law provides organizational, regulatory, administrative, budgetary and accounting autonomy to the Italian Cooperation Agency. While details on funding have yet to be deliberated, ICA is confirmed to have a financing facility at its disposal. This facility will be funded by Italians’ postal savings and is meant to improve “access, control and coordination of the financial activities of banks and multilateral funds.”

This move seems to buck the trend for aid agencies being folded into foreign affairs departments, as in the case of Australia and Canada. The Italian agency won’t have complete autonomy, however. It will be supervised by the foreign affairs ministry, which will be renamed Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation. The ministry, through its development cooperation directorate-general, will remain ultimately responsible for Italian foreign aid.

But the expectation is for the ministry to take on an increasingly “strategic and political function,” leaving operations and day-to-day work to the newly formed agency.

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About the author

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    Eva Donelli

    As a correspondent based in Brussels, Eva Donelli covers EU development policy issues and actors, from the EU institutions to the international NGO community. Eva was previously at the United Nations Regional Information Center for Western Europe and in the European Parliament's press office. As a freelance reporter, she has contributed to Italian and international magazines covering a wide range of issues, including EU affairs, development policy, social protection and nuclear energy. She speaks fluent English, French and Spanish in addition to her native Italian.