In the ongoing process towards the new law on co-operation it is clear that little or nothing can be changed during the short parliamentary passage that, barring unforeseen circumstances , could start in March. The deputy minister Pistelli speaks of a parliamentary path of approximately 15 months until the drafting of the decrees and the statutes that establish the Agency. The Agency seems to be the only real chance to make a change in the Italian Cooperation. Until now, the debate has been characterized by the fear that the newly-formed agency can become a heavy wagon, many think that it is an investment too costly and therefore unpopular in the current context.
Most of the operators in the sector, especially NGOs, have imagined a competent agency, streamlined and efficient for the implementation of strategies and programs of development cooperation organized on the basis of criteria of effectiveness, uniformity and transparency, subject to the power of direction and supervision of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation , with organizational, accounting and financial statements.
Some articles of the text passed in the Council of Ministers and the annexed technical reports have made slip back the image of the Agency as a branch of the Directorate for Development Cooperation (DGCS) where the limited autonomy would be further reduced by the contiguity with the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The idea of the deputy minister Pistelli is to base the Agency’s HQ “a cotè” of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome in the so-called “ex Civis buildings” acquired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs few years ago. In such cases, the HQ of the agency may have a total surface area up to 3,760 square meters, which is necessary to ensure the tasks of organization with all its services. “The estimated costs for restructuring the building is about 2 milion euros”.
There are already two alternatives for the location of the Agency’s HQ: one goes back almost two years ago, the availability enunciated by Giuliano Pisapia (Major of Milan) at the 2012 Cooperation Forum, which proposed his town as the ideal site for the Agency as a legacy of the Expo 2015. The second is more recent and comes from Florence, the city of the Deputy Minister Pistelli. The possibility is to use the buildings of the IAO (Agronomic Institute for Overseas), a body that will be absorbed by the agency.
More and more stakeholders are convinced that a different future for the Italian Cooperation is possible only releasing it gradually from almost unique relationship with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its diplomacy. This is why many are suggesting a decentralization of the Agency far away from Rome.
The association of NGOs from Lombard Region (CoLomba) in its paper on the reform of Development Cooperation has commented “We believe that a decentralized agency in Milan – as proposed by the Mayor Pisapia – contribute in a strong way to reduce the influence of diplomacy on cooperation and make it more effective collaboration with the new players that this text introduces (companies, primarily), as well as local governments more engaged on territorial cooperation (almost all located in Northern Italy) “.