Italy: Role of social dialogue in industrial policies

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 02 Wrzesień 2014



About
Country:
Italy
Author:
Institution:

Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

In Italy, there is no formal framework for the joint definition of industrial policies. The involvement of the social partners, which is widespread and broad, takes place essentially on an ad hoc basis at the initiative of the government and the relevant ministries, according to the various policy areas. Another important contact with the policy-making process takes place through hearings at parliamentary committees, which are part of the more general advocacy initiatives carried out by interest organisations.

Such a lack of a formal arena for policy concertation is often seen as a weakness by social partners, which have also recently (at the beginning of September 2013) called for a stronger involvement in industrial policies, and notably in restructuring policies. Despite this, the recent experience of the exceptional shock absorbers implemented at regional level to contrast the economic crisis shows how the involvement of the social partners can be effectively developed in a crucial policy area. Another interesting example can be found in the field of credit guarantees for SMEs.

Part 1: Overall role and involvement of social partners in industrial policy in the national context

Introduction: this section aims at identifying involvement of social partners and the types of policy instruments used. Industrial policy is in this context used in its broader sense as…

those policies that have an impact on the cost, price and innovative competitiveness of industry and individual sectors, such as standardisation or innovation policies, or sectoral policies targeting e.g. the innovation performance of individual sectors.

The policy instruments are then defined as the method or mechanism used by government, political parties, business or individuals to achieve a desired effect, through legal or economic means.

Industrial policy initiatives are often undertaken unilaterally by the government but other forms may include social partners in different constellations, including:

  • bipartite initiative (a common approach by the social partners);
  • tripartite initiative (the social partners in tandem with the public authorities);
  • tripartite+ initiative (the three stakeholders in combination sometimes with other civil society players such as NGOs, research centres or qualified figures);
  • public-private partnership initiatives (one social partner and the public authorities); and
  • unilateral initiatives by a single social partner

1. Is there in your country currently a policy framework to stimulate investments that both create economic growth and employment? Tick Yes/No

Table 1

Policy framework

Yes

No

Economic growth

-

 

Employment

-

 

Both economic growth and employment

Yes

 

Competitiveness

Yes

 

In Italy, as in the other member States of the European Union, there is a dense web of different policies in all areas which can be regarded as aiming at promoting economic growth and employment creation, and so the government and the relevant ministries explicitly declare. It is probably difficult, at present, to find a policy initiative which does not include among its main objectives the promotion of growth, employment and competitiveness. Yet, it is quite difficult to organize an inventory of such policies and initiatives, which certainly goes beyond the possibility of this overview.

2. Is there evidence in your country of involvement of social partners in the process of formulating industrial policy interventions? If yes, please indicate which types of involvement:

Table 2

Type of social partner involvement:

… in the formulation of horizontal (cross-sector) interventions

… in the formulation of vertical (sector-, industry- or company-specific) interventions

Sector-specific involvement

Yes/no:

-

Yes/no:

Yes

Cross-sector involvement

Yes/no:

Yes

-

Bipartite, tripartite, tripartite+, unilateral, public/private partnership?

Please indicate which, if any, of these types apply:

In general, the involvement takes place at the initiative of the government or the ministries responsible for the specific policies to be discussed.

In certain circumstances the social partners individually or jointly can present to the government their positions and/or requests about a specific policy area.

There is usually a certain correspondence between the type of policy and the type/level of social partner representation involved: for cross-sector issues, employer and trade union confederations are more likely to be involved, whereas on sectoral topics industry federations and associations are the most frequent parties involved in policy talks

Please indicate which, if any, of these types apply:

In general, the involvement takes place at the initiative of the government or the ministries responsible for the specific policies to be discussed.

In certain circumstances the social partners individually or jointly can present to the government their positions and/or requests about a specific policy area.

There is usually a certain correspondence between the type of policy and the type/level of social partner representation involved: for cross-sector issues, employer and trade union confederations are more likely to be involved, whereas on sectoral topics industry federations and associations are the most frequent parties involved in policy talks

3. How have social partners been involved in the industrial policy formulation process?

Table 3
 

Please indicate (X) the extent to which the different types of involvement are used, including whether this involvement is statutory:

Level of government?

Sector focus?

Specific form of social partner involvement:

Statutory/mandatory

Very common/ used in most policy processes but not statutory

Fairly common but not consistently used

Rarely used

Not used at all

National or regional?

Sectoral or cross-sectoral?

Tripartite standing committee

     

X

 

Both

Both

Tripartite ad hoc committees

     

X

 

Both

Both

High-level groups or other multi-stakeholder committees involving other stakeholders in addition to social partners

     

X

 

Both

Both

If multi-stakeholder committees:

Please indicate which types of other stakeholders are (typically) involved:

Associations, NGOs

Hearings

 

X

     

Both

Both

Consultations

   

X

   

Both

Both

Conferences

     

X

 

Both

Both

Other - please specify below:

             

.

             

Since the question refers to policy ‘formulation’ the involvement of social partners or other stakeholders is usually not mandatory. In certain cases, the involvement of social partners can be envisaged in policy implementation. However, the difference can be somehow difficult to grasp, since in certain policy areas the consultation with social partners can be generally foreseen, as in certain labour and education and training policies. These are usually only formal obligations and requirements that the political authority has to meet before taking an unilateral act, like the definition of criteria for the access to special shock-absorbers (decree law no. 54 of 21 May 2013, Article 4), or the general norms on the validation and certification of competences (legislative decree no. 13 of 16 January 2013), or some specific aspects of the recent labour market reform (law no. 92 of 28 June 2012). The social partners can also be involved in the monitoring process of policies, which of course may be quite important for subsequent policy adjustments and revisions (again the recent labour market reform, law no. 92 of 28 June 2012)

It is interesting to note that in a recent joint document signed on 2 September 2013 by Confindustria, the major Italian employer confederation, and Cgil, Cisl and Uil, the three main trade union confederations a special paragraph is devoted to industrial policies. The document illustrates the position of the signatories regarding the current debate over the Stability Law for 2014 (which will be discussed in parliament from mid-November 2013) and draws the attention on the promotion of growth and employment. The section on industrial policies underlines the difficulties which the Italian production system is currently facing as a consequence of the economic crisis. In particular, Confindustria, Cgil, Cisl and Uil demand the establishment of a national steering committee on company restructuring (cabina di regia nazionale sulla crisi d’impresa), with the participation of the government, the social partners and all the other relevant stakeholders (notably the banking system and the fiscal administration), in order to find effective solutions to the present difficulties. The document identifies four priorities for action: 1) the promotion of innovation to foster competitiveness; 2) the development of the green economy; 3) the creation of new financial instruments for development to strengthen the capitalization of companies and promote investments; 4) the reduction of energy costs. The draft Stability Law for 2014 somehow followed this request and envisaged the establishment of a steering committee (cabina di regia) for monitoring and coordinating the existing measures in the field of company restructuring, with the aim to promote investments and ensure the coordination between the social partners and the relevant authorities for the solution of company and territorial crises.

4. Is there evidence in your country of initiatives that follows recommendations and developments at EU-level? If yes, please indicate in which sectors:

This is a quite general question. In any policy areas there are EU-level norms or guidelines which are relevant and must be taken into consideration. Having said that, within this general and overarching reference to EU policies, it is difficult to identify some examples of policy concertation which directly follow from policy recommendations and developments at EU-level. This is probably also the case because of the low formalization of the involvement of the social partners in the definition of industrial policies.

5. Which types of industrial policy instruments/interventions at different government levels have social partners been involved in? Please indicate degree of involvement

3 = high degree of involvement,

2 = involvement to some extent,

1 = low degree of involvement,

0 = no involvement.

Table 4*

Policy instruments:

National level

Regional level

Local level

Public investment programmes:

2

2

2

infrastructure

2

2

2

construction

2

2

2

building renovation

     

other

     

Innovation programmes

2

2

2

Support for R&D

2

2

2

Cluster promotion

2

3

3

Export promotion

3

2

3

Internationalisation of SMEs

3

3

3

Improvement of access to finance:

3

3

2

loan

     

loan guarantee programmes

3

3

2

venture capital funding

     

other

     

Public procurement policies

1

1

1

Tax and duty policies

2

2

2

Adapting the skills base

3

3

3

Subsidies for restructuring/ bail-out of companies in crisis

3

3

3

Social plans in case of restructuring. Training/re-training

3

3

3

Investment incentives

3

2

2

Energy efficiency/ energy shift

3

3

2

Energy supply security

3

2

2

Access to raw materials

1

1

1

Prices of energy and raw materials

2

1

1

Others, please specify below:

     
       

*Note: Given the variety of situations at national and local levels for the various policy areas, the indications included in the table should be considered as merely indicative of an overall ‘average degree of involvement’

The degree of involvement is difficult to assess. Again, this is because of the low institutionalisation of participation in the formulation of policies. Rather than the level of involvement, the effectiveness of the involvement could be taken into consideration in terms on the impacts on the policies which are eventually undertaken. In this, it can be interesting to note that the social partners often express some criticism of the policy makers and the political authorities for a too low involvement. Such criticism does not necessarily relate to an absolute lack of consultations, but rather to the absence of a general concertation strategy and to the low impact of the social partners’ positions on the policy making output.

Also note that the degree of involvement of the two sides of industry can vary depending on the policy area. It is usually balanced in the case of training and labour market policies, but when it comes to R&D and credit policies, the role of employer and business associations is generally more relevant.

6. Which, if any, positive effect(s) can be related to the involvement of social partners in the industrial policy process in your country?

There are no general analyses which can provide information to complete the following tables. In the public debate the pros and cons of consultation over industrial policies have been considered in recent years. On one side, the involvement of social partners, like of other stakeholders, has been supported for its potential capacity to contribute to the robustness, relevance and ownership of policy initiatives so to improve their implementation and enhance their effectiveness in terms of anticipated policy outcomes (more growth, more employment, more competitiveness). On the other side, the main drawbacks of policy consultation have been identified in the length of the process and the risk to incur in deadlocks and vetoes – also because of the splits between the social partners and especially among trade unions. In practice, in recent years there have been a clear tendency to reduce the scope for policy concertation, especially at national level and on structural reforms. Policy makers and the government in particular have in many occasions underlined the necessity to proceed with reforms and stressed that the responsibility for final decisions remains with the political authorities. So, government officials have often declared that, although the social partners must be consulted and involved as much as possible, if no satisfactory agreement can be reached in a reasonable time span, the government should proceed with its own initiatives, taking into consideration the different opinions expressed by the social partners. In other words, in recent years the economic and financial urgency of initiatives (like the pension reform of January 2011 and the labour market reform of June 2012) have prevailed over the objective of finding an agreement with the social partners on the content of the reforms.

This is the general attitude emerging at national level on economic and social reforms: to prefer rapid and uncompromising decisions to long consultations with no guarantee of effective solutions. However, it should be stressed that, in certain policy areas, the scope for the involvement of social partners has increased and has become more formalised, especially at regional level and in the field of the provision of social-shock absorbers and training.

Table 5

Positive effects

Tick (X) where applicable

Please comment briefly: How did effect manifest itself?

Speed of policy process

   

Robustness of policy initiatives

   

Relevance of policy initiatives

   

Dynamism in the policy process

   

European coordination

   

Ownership of policy initiatives

   

Coherence and coordination of labour market, education, and economic policies

   

Stimulating public-private partnerships

   

Others, please specify below:

   

.

   

7. Which, if any, problems or challenges related to involvement of social partners in the industrial policy process have been encountered in your country?

Table 6

Problems/challenges:

Tick (X) where applicable

Please comment briefly: How did the problem manifest itself?

Increased bureaucracy

   

Lengthy policy processes

   

Lengthy bargaining processes

   

Dilution (circumvention) of parliamentary democracy

   

Problems of establishing accountability

   

Lack of dynamism in the policy process

   

Lack of culture to involve social partners

   

Others, please specify below:

   

.

   

8. What, if anything, has been done to address these challenges/problems listed in questions 7? What was the outcome?

Table

Problems/challenges:

Measures undertaken

Effect positive/negative

     
     

Part 2: Description of relevant sector examples of social partner involvement

This section aims to identify examples of policies targeting specific sectors and involving social dialogue. Among the industrial policies treated in the previous section in question 5, please select 2-3 examples which represent significant industrial policies in your country and describe the policy instruments used and the contribution of social partners to the shaping of the policy and the outcome of their involvement.

The selection of examples should be guided by the following criteria:

  • importance of the sector to the national economy;
  • level of government support to the industry; and
  • best practice of social dialogue in the country.

Please provide references to key sources.

Example 1

Name of the instrument:

Ammortizzatori sociali in deroga – Regione Lombardia

Exceptional Social Shock Absorbers – Lombardy Regional Administration

Sector:

Cross-sector

Type of instrument applied:

(use categories from question 5. Some sector policies may apply more than one instrument

Subsidies for restructuring/bail-out of companies in crisis

Adapting the skills base

Social plans in case of restructuring. Training/re-training

Timing:

(Period of implementation of instrument)

2009-

Operational level

National

Regional

Local

Please tick the government level and/or provide details of geographical implementation area if relevant:

 

X

Exceptional Shock Absorbers are administered at regional level according to schemes and criteria agreed with the social partners. ‘Exceptional’ Shock Absorbers are those introduced to cope with the economic crisis in 2009 and fall outside the ordinary instruments

 

Funding:

(Please describe the size of the instrument and detail the source(s) of funding, e.g. EU, state budget, levies, stakeholder contributions, etc.).

The instrument has been co-funded by the national government and the regional administrations, including the use of the European Social Fund in connection with active labour policies and notably training. The initial funding for 2009-2010 was expected to be of EUR 8 million nation-wide and it will be of about EUR 2 billion in 2013

Target group(s):

(please describe target group in terms of sector/industry, type of company, geographical criteria and/or other relevant characteristics)

Companies and workers not covered by the standard wage guarantee fund and other income-support schemes

Rationale/motivation for the instrument:

(please describe the problem that the instrument should address – for instance: market failure, need to increase sector competitiveness, crisis intervention, etc.)

The overall objective is to provide support measures for the workers involved in company crisis both in terms of income integration and training, requalification and, in case of redundancies, of re-employment

Policy stage

Please describe stage of involvement of the social actors i.e.

policy preparation (consultation),

policy decision (co-determination? and

policy implementation (fx. by involvement in agencies)

The social partners are involved in all stages. In the policy preparation, they contribute to the definition of the criteria and the contents of the various interventions, which have to be defined in collective agreements. Moreover, there are joint commissions which have a supervisory and co-decision role regarding the implementation and adjustment of the policy measures, as well as the responsibility of monitoring the application and outcomes of the policy instruments.

Objectives of the instrument:

(please describe the objectives and any quantitative targets set for the instrument– e.g.

increased employment by X% in sector Y by 20xx

increase in sector exports by X%

increase in FDI by X%

As mentioned above, the main objective is providing income support and provide training and re-employment services. There are no specific quantitative targets. The instrument is essentially demand-driven.

Activities and implementation:

(Please give details on the implementation of the intervention)

 

Social partner involvement

 

Type of social partner involvement:

(Bipartite, tripartite, tripartite+, unilateral, public/private partnership? – cf. qu. 1)

Tripartite through collective agreements and joint commissions

Level of involvement of social partners involvement:

European, National, regional, local

Sectoral

Regional

Specific form of social partner involvement:

(tripartite standing or ad hoc committee, high-level group, hearing, consultation, conferences, etc.? – cf. qu. 2)

Tripartite standing and ad hoc committees, social concertation of policies

Timing and nature of social partner involvement:

(Please provide more details on the processes that social partners were involved in, their input, the timing, etc.)

The social partners are involved throughout the process, for the policy design, to the implementation phase and monitoring activities

Impact of social partner involvement on design and implementation of instrument:

(Please describe how/if the design and/or implementation was affected through the involvement of social partners)

The contribution of the social partners is essential, although the general framework was established at the initiative of the national government together with the regional administrations. Moreover, the regional administration and the social partners have to consider the general financial constraints set by the resources made available by the national government

Other stakeholders involved, if any:

(please name stakeholders and briefly describe their roles)

To some extent the providers of training and employment services (which are both the public employment services and private providers) are part of the policy framework, although they do not participate to the policy formulation phase

Results and outcomes

 

Outputs/results:

(Please give details of the outputs/results of the intervention; e.g number of jobs created/retained, number of workers upskilled; wage increases, investment increases, increased co-operation between social partners, etc.)

The policy instrument includes different tools. The main component of the intervention is the exceptional wage guarantee fund, which provides income support for workers suspended because of a company crisis. The total number of hours of work suspension authorised through the exceptional wage guarantee fund in Lombardy were almost 38 million hours in 2009, 87 million hours in 2010, 52 million hours in 2011, and 57 million hours in 2012 (Source: Inps, National Institute of Social Security, 2013).

Assessment of effectiveness:

(Please provide an assessment of the effectiveness of the intervention - were the objectives reached? If possible, base the assessment on evaluation reports or similar)

The policy is regarded as highly effective in supporting the workers and the companies hit by the economic crisis.

Possible explanations for the effectiveness of the instrument:

(Please provide possible explanations for the degree of effectiveness achieved, including the contribution of the social partner involvement; e.g. improved bargaining process? Increased dynamism in the policy process? Other explanations?)

The involvement of the social partners allowed to take into consideration the situations and the needs of the parties involved and to devise the policy instruments according to the developments in the economic and social situations affected by the economic crisis.

Assessment of efficiency:

Did the outputs/results measure up to the effort/resources invested? If possible, base the assessment on evaluation reports or similar)

No specific assessment of the efficiency of the policy instrument is available.

Possible explanations for the efficiency of the instrument:

(Please provide possible explanations for the degree of efficiency, including the contribution of the social partner involvement)

 
Example 2

Name of the instrument:

Fondo Centrale di Garanzia per le PMI

Central Loan Guarantee Fund for SMEs

Sector:

Cross-sector

Type of instrument applied:

(use categories from question 5. Some sector policies may apply more than one instrument

Improvement of access to finance

Loan guarantee programmes

Timing:

(Period of implementation of instrument)

The Fund was established at the end of the 1990s (namely in 1996-1997) and it has been in operation since then. It has been strengthened in recent years, also as a measure to contrast the impact of the financial and economic crisis which started in 2008

Operational level

National

Regional

Local

Please tick the government level and/or provide details of geographical implementation area if relevant:

X

The Fund operates at national level but it refers to the regional and local financial system, where SMEs have access to credit

X

X

Funding:

(Please describe the size of the instrument and detail the source(s) of funding, e.g. EU, state budget, levies, stakeholder contributions, etc.).

The Fund operates on public funding which are made available from the state budget, including structural funds for the improvement of the capital market and access to credit for SMEs. The resources amounted to EUR 2 billion for the 2008-2012 period and EUR 1.2 billion for the 2012-2014 period. Since the Funds operates with a rotating fund and given that defaults amount to about 2% of the guaranteed loans, the leverage effect is significant and produces a volume of potential loan guarantee of around 20 times the available funds.

It is interesting to note that new rules allow the creation of special sections funded by different actors (Regional administrations, Chambers of Commerce, and other organisations) to cover further objectives. For instance, the Chambers of Commerce launched an initiative for the internationalisation of SMEs, while the Equal Opportunity Department of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers is setting up a section for specifically supporting female entrepreneurship.

Target group(s):

(please describe target group in terms of sector/industry, type of company, geographical criteria and/or other relevant characteristics)

Target groups are SMEs, including craft firms, which are economically sound according to a set of criteria which are meant to maintain the default rate low.

Rationale/motivation for the instrument:

(please describe the problem that the instrument should address – for instance: market failure, need to increase sector competitiveness, crisis intervention, etc.)

The instrument aims to enhance the access to credit of SMEs, which may face difficulties to fund their operations or investments.

Policy stage

Please describe stage of involvement of the social actors i.e.

policy preparation (consultation),

policy decision (co-determination? and

policy implementation (fx. by involvement in agencies)

The Fund is managed by a Managing Committee, which includes representatives of employer associations.

The Managing Committee is a consultation and concertation forum made of 21 representatives of the central administrations (Ministry of Economic development, Ministry of the Economy and Finance, Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies, Ministry of Infrastructures and Transport, Presidency of the Council of Ministers), local administrations (Regions), the Italian Banking association (ABI) and employer associations (Confindustria, Confapi, Confcommercio, Confartigianato, CNA, Casartigiani, Confartigianato/UNATRAS, Confesercenti and Confcooperative).

The Managing Committee is responsible for the ongoing operations of the Fund and decides over all issues.

Objectives of the instrument:

(please describe the objectives and any quantitative targets set for the instrument– e.g.

increased employment by X% in sector Y by 20xx

increase in sector exports by X%

increase in FDI by X%

The object is to improve the access to the credit market for SMEs. No specific target are set, also because the guarantee capacity of the Fund depends on the available resources and the overall credit performance.

Activities and implementation:

(Please give details on the implementation of the intervention)

According to specific procedures, the Fund guarantees the loans of SMEs in connection with the financial system (banks) or private credit guarantee associations (Confidi) established by different actors, including employer and business associations. The Fund can grant a direct guarantee to the creditors, or it can guarantee other credit guarantee operators (Confidi) with a so-called ‘counter-guarantee’ (controgaranzia), or it can co-guarantee a credit together with another operator.

Social partner involvement

Managing Committee

Type of social partner involvement:

(Bipartite, tripartite, tripartite+, unilateral, public/private partnership? – cf. qu. 1)

Bipartite managing committee

Level of involvement of social partners involvement:

European, National, regional, local

Sectoral

National

Specific form of social partner involvement:

(tripartite standing or ad hoc committee, high-level group, hearing, consultation, conferences, etc.? – cf. qu. 2)

Bipartite managing committee

Timing and nature of social partner involvement:

(Please provide more details on the processes that social partners were involved in, their input, the timing, etc.)

Representatives of the employer associations have been integrated in the ongoing management of the instrument

Impact of social partner involvement on design and implementation of instrument:

(Please describe how/if the design and/or implementation was affected through the involvement of social partners)

Through their role in the managing Committee, the representatives of the employer associations can contribute to the ongoing operations and are important partners in any adjustment or new development in the instrument

Other stakeholders involved, if any:

(please name stakeholders and briefly describe their roles)

Representatives of local administrations and of the Italian Banking Association (ABI) are members of the Managing Committee, besides representatives of the relevant ministries and of the employer associations

Results and outcomes

 

Outputs/results:

(Please give details of the outputs/results of the intervention; e.g number of jobs created/retained, number of workers upskilled; wage increases, investment increases, increased co-operation between social partners, etc.)

In 2012, the Fund guaranteed more than 60,000 loan operations amounting to some EUR 8 million, with a credit guarantee of around EUR 4 billion. Most of the operations (60%) involved micro enterprises, whereas the largest share of the overall credit guarantee (43%) was granted to small enterprises. Medium enterprises represented about 9% of operations and almost 30% of the overall credit guarantee.

Assessment of effectiveness:

(Please provide an assessment of the effectiveness of the intervention - were the objectives reached? If possible, base the assessment on evaluation reports or similar)

Positive

Possible explanations for the effectiveness of the instrument:

(Please provide possible explanations for the degree of effectiveness achieved, including the contribution of the social partner involvement; e.g. improved bargaining process? Increased dynamism in the policy process? Other explanations?)

The definition of access criteria and the innovations introduced recently allow on one hand to maintain a good performance and therefore preserve the credit guarantee capacity and on the other hand to strengthen the action of the Fund towards new objectives (for instance the internationalisation of firms and female entrepreneurship). The social partners involvement in the Managing Committee certainly contributed to such results and developments

Assessment of efficiency:

Did the outputs/results measure up to the effort/resources invested? If possible, base the assessment on evaluation reports or similar)

The low default rate indicates a good efficiency performance

Possible explanations for the efficiency of the instrument:

(Please provide possible explanations for the degree of efficiency, including the contribution of the social partner involvement)

The careful definition of access criteria and the ongoing management of current operations

Roberto Pedersini, Università degli Studi di Milano

COM(2010) 614 An Integrated Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era Putting Competitiveness and Sustainability at Centre Stage. EC 2010

Useful? Interesting? Tell us what you think. Hide comments

Dodaj komentarz