Italy’s cabinet has approved new laws deregulating some service sector jobs and professions — everything from taxi drivers to pharmacists, journalists, lawyers, doctors and dentists, even petrol station operators.
The aim is to increase competition and boost Italy’s economic growth.
The cabinet approved the decree after an eight hour long meeting.
Prime Minister Mario Monti said he understood that some people are opposed: “All of us, be it individuals or social groups, prefer to stick with the status quo rather than facing up to new challenges, but we also believe that (without this deregulation) it is going to be difficult for us all together to find a new way to grow (the economy).”
Indeed the measures are strongly opposed by many of those affected who belong to associations dating back decades and which shelter them from competition.
Monti said the changes would remove barriers to work, especially for Italy’s young people.
The reforms will become effective immediately but have to be approved by parliament within 60 days or they will expire.
The government plans more deregulation measures in the future.
Guilds representing lawyers, notaries, accountants and journalists have pledged to fight the abolition of minimum fees, while petrol stations and many others are digging in against deregulation measures that would affect them.
Paradoxically however, the fact that Monti has taken on such a broad swath of groups may end up helping him because it means no vested interests can say they are being unfairly picked on.
The professions do have powerful allies in parliament. Of Italy’s 945 lawmakers, almost a third are members of one guild or another. More than 130 are lawyers, 90 are journalists, 23 are accountants, 13 are architects and four are notaries.