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JURIST's Italy Correspondents are: Elisabetta Silvestri, Assistant Professor of Civil Procedure, Faculty of Law, University of Pavia; Nicola Lugaresi, Associate Professor of Administrative Law, Faculty of Law, University of Trento; Enrico Baccetti, Adonnino Ascoli & Cavasola Scamoni, Milan; Alberto Cantu, De Berti Jacchia Perno & Associti, Milan; and avv. Stefano Nespor, Milan.
Developments of Italian Environmental Law: Year 2001

[Bologna; Special to JURIST] Italian environmental law may be divided into two parts: a general part, dealing with general legal principles, organizational issues and procedural aspects, and a sectional part, dealing with environmental issues on a sectoral basis, according to a traditional layout.

In the general part, major changes were made to the Italian constitution, reorganizing legislative competences between the Central Government and the regions. Reforms affected the environmental sector, amending Article 117 of the Italian Constitution, to provide the Central Government with exclusive jurisdiction on the protection of the environment (Central Government has exclusive jurisdiction on the following subjects: protection of the environment, of the ecosystem and of cultural heritage).

While the environment is not explicitly recognized as a fundamental value in the Constitution (Article 9 still talks about landscape, stating that the Republic safeguards landscape and the historical and artistic heritage of the Nation), the reforms have acknowledged the relevance of the environment in a broad way.

Regions, which have played a constant role in protecting the environment, in the context of town planning over the past few decades, appear to be excluded from the environmental arena under the new reforms. Considering that the same Article 117 entrusts enhancement of cultural and environmental heritage to the concurrent jurisdiction of the State and the Regions, it is not hard to foresee institutional conflicts in defining the respective responsibilities.

As for the sectional part, the main legislative changes have been in connection with genetically modified micro-organisms, drinking water and electromagnetic pollution. While the laws on the contained use of GMOs (or rather GMMs, in this case) and water intended for human consumption comply with EC directives, the law on electromagnetic waves affects a field not considered by European directives.

About electromagnetic pollution, it is remarkable that the Italian legislature has strictly implemented the European precautionary principle (as set forth Article 174 of the EC Treaty), independently from EC legislation. EC law still does not address this issue, and there is no agreement, either among States, or among experts, on its significance beyond a recommendation to limit exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields.

Finally, it is expected that 2002 will witness a legislative delegation from the Parliament to the Cabinet in order to adopt consolidated environmental laws, particularly in six areas: waste management; water protection and management; soil protection; habitat protection and endangered species; environmental damage; and integrated environmental protection.

Nicola Lugaresi
JURIST Italy Correspondent
February 22, 2002


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