Intergroups in the Italian parliament, more rules and transparency are needed

It might not be of common knowledge, but besides committees and special assemblies, there are many intergroups in the Italian parliament. No rules on how they should work, and no information regarding their funding and functioning is available.

Just a few weeks ago the active ageing intergroup was born. Its promoters Lucio Romano (Aut-Psi-Maie) and Vittoria D’Incecco (Pd) said the goal was to “work towards the recommendations of the european commission, in order to improve the life expectancy by two years by 2020“.

But what are exactly intergroups? How are they regulated? The Italian parliament has 14 permanent committees in both chambers and a number of temporary assemblies on a variety of issues. In addition intergroups are growing in numbers by the day. From a technical point of view they are not official bodies of either the chamber of deputies or the senate. They are considered unofficial groupings of MPs, from different political groups, on specific issues.

At the moment there are several intergroups active in the Italian parliament, some more popular than others. From the well known intergroups for digital innovation and the legalization of cannabis, to the less known intergroups for the development of the mountains, electronic cigarettes and the via francigena, just to say a few examples. The list could go on for a while, but the subject is quite “anarchic”. There are no formal rules on how they should work and there is no official list/registry, so understanding the scope of the phenomenon is more complicated than it seems.

From what we understand there are two main types of integroups. On one side we have those that are openly supporting interest groups. In this sense the integroup for electronic cigarettes is a great example since one of its promotes, Abrignani, openly stated that they are planning to propose legislation to improve the sector. On the other, intergroups like the one of young MPs, are active for more general causes, like youth and future generations.

Since these unofficial groupings have the clear goal to influence the debate and in some ways contribute to the approval of specific legislation, more rules on their functioning should be implemented. The european parliament for example included intergroups in its rules of procedure. Article 34 regulates intergroups, establishing, for example, the scope of their actions. Furthermore the website of the european parliament publishes the official list of intergroups, with members and funding. It would be a great improvement if the Italian parliament followed the example set by european institutions.