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Italy: New Civil Protection Code Enters into Force

(Mar. 27, 2018) On February 2, 2018, a new Civil Protection Code to address responses to disasters and other national emergencies came into effect in Italy. (Legislative Decreee No. 1 of January 2, 2018, CIVIL PROTECTION CODE, GAZZETTA UFFICIALE (G.U.) (Jan. 22, 2018), Normattiva website (in Italian).)

This law represents the Italian government’s most significant legislative effort regarding civil protection since the adoption of Law No. 225 of 1992 Providing for the Establishment of the National Service of Civil Protection. (Press Release, Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Department of Civil Protection, Protezione Civile: Borrelli, soddisfazione per Nuovo Testo Unico [Civil Protection: Borrelli, Satisfaction with New Consolidated Text] (Dec. 29, 2017); (Law No. 225 of February 24, 1992 on the Establishment of the National Civil Protection Service, G.U. (Mar. 17, 1992), Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Department of Civil Protection website (in Italian).) The new Law is the product of the work of the national government in conjunction with the regions, municipalities, provinces, and central administration agencies that operate the National Civil Protection Service (NCPS). Many volunteer civil protection organizations were also involved in drafting the new bill. In particular, the new Law defines the NCPS as the government unit in charge of “protecting life, physical integrity, property, settlements, animals, and the environment from damage or the danger of damage caused by natural or human-caused disasters.” (2018 CIVIL PROTECTION CODE art. 1(1).)

The new Civil Protection Code systematizes and organizes all legislation enacted on the topic during the last twenty years. (Il nuovo codice di Protezione civile ispirato dalla Liguria [New Civil Protection Code Inspired by Liguria], TELENORD (last visited Mar. 21, 2018).) Several innovations include separating the responsibility for political and technical functions and new provisions for more effective emergency operations. (Id.) The new provisions are largely modeled after legislation that has been in force in the Liguria Region for years, particularly concerning alert systems, operations, and cooperation with firefighting services. (Id.)

Among other aspects, the new law creates the “Declaration of a State of Mobilization,” which allows the authorities to declare a state of emergency and allocate initial emergency funds before an official estimate of the damages is concluded. (Michela Meloni, Nasce il Nuovo Codice della Protezione Civile [New Civil Protection Code Is Born], AEDILE (Feb. 14, 2018).) In addition, the Declaration of a State of Mobilization allows the authorities to extend the state of emergency for up to two years in special situations. (Id.) The Law creates Civil Protection Authorities to oversee the unity of all government emergency-related work. (Id.)

Composition of the NCPS

The following authorities comprise the NCPS: the President of the Council of Ministers, Presidents of the Regions and the Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano, and mayors of metropolitan areas and municipalities throughout the country. (2018 CIVIL PROTECTION CODE art. 3(1)(a)–(c).)

Operative Structure of the NCPS

The NCPS is composed of the Italian Army, police, civil protection agencies, the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the National Research Council, the National Health Service, nationally relevant research entities and institutes whose goal is civil protection (gli enti e istituti di ricerca di rilievo nazionale con finalita’ di protezione civile), the Italian Red Cross, the National Corps of Alpine and Speleology Rescue, the National System for Environmental Protection, and national meteorological service agencies. (Id. art. 13(1)(a)–(g).) The National Operative Committee for Civil Protection, directly dependent on the President of the Council of Ministers, is in charge of coordinating all of the activities corresponding to the NSCP. (Id. art. 14(1).)

Great Risks Commission

Under the new Law, the National Commission for the Prediction and Prevention of Great Risks is the technical-scientific consultative organ attached to the Civil Protection Department. (Id. art. 20(1).)

Individualization of Covered Risks

Risks requiring the intervention of the NCSP are seismic, volcanic, tsunami-related, hydraulic, hydrogeological, and those caused by adverse meteorological phenomena, water deficits, and forest fires. (Id. art. 16(1).)

Catastrophic Events Covered by the New Law

New categories of emergencies are established by the law:

  • Emergencies connected with natural or human-caused disasters that may be tackled through immediate actions by the competent public agencies. (Id. art. 7(1)(a).)
  • Emergencies connected with natural or human-caused disasters that require the coordinated intervention of two or more public agencies and extraordinary means and powers to be used during predefined periods of time. (Id. art. 7(1)(b).)
  • Emergencies connected with natural or human-caused disasters that, according to their intensity or extent, must be tackled with extraordinary means and powers beyond predefined periods of time. (Id. art. 7(1)(c).)

Preventative Activities

Under the new Law, preventative activities include the following:

  • Alerting the NCPS about risks to the population. (Id. art. 2(4)(a).)
  • Dissemination of civil protection culture and knowledge. (Id. art. 2(4)(e).)
  • Informing the population to prepare for risk scenarios. (Id. art. 2(4)(f).)
  • Promoting and organizing civil protection exercises with the involvement of the population. (Id. art. 2(4)(g).)
  • Implementation of risk-mitigation activities in case of disasters. (Id. art. 2(5)(b).)

Alert Systems

Under the new Law, the NCSP manages the national alert system, but the regions have important powers to manage information and instruments and to evaluate and monitor responses to risks. (Id. art. 17(1).)

Declaration of State of Mobilization

In the event of a covered disaster, the President of the Council of Ministers issues a decree containing a Declaration of a State of Mobilization, which aims at tackling the effects of a disaster by deploying all of the available resources at the national level, in particular, providing support to affected populations. (Id. art. 23(1)–(2).)

Declaration of a State of Emergency of National Importance

With the occurrence of other specific criteria in the event of a disaster, the Council of Ministers issues a Declaration of a State of Emergency of National Importance, which, among other aspects, triggers the operation of the National Emergency Fund. (Id. art. 24(1).) The resources of the Fund proceed from the Presidency of the Council of Ministers’ budget, which in turn is allocated by the Ministry of Economy and Finance. (Id. art. 43(1).) The maximum duration of the State of Emergency of National Importance is twelve months, but it can be extended for an additional twelve months. (Id. art. 24(3).) The Law contains new special provisions on the accounting of expenses incurred from the National Emergency Fund, which include the appointment of a special commissioner on accounting. (Id. art. 27(1)–(2).) Disputes arising from the use of monies from the Fund are decided by the regular national judiciary and are not subject to arbitration. (Id. art. 27(9)–(10).) In addition, the Law establishes the Regional Fund for Civil Protection. (Id. art. 45(1).)

Use of Signs Pertaining to the NCSP

Under penalty of law, the use of the logo, insignia, emblems, and other signs of the NCSP are reserved exclusively for use by affiliated personnel or under the supervision of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the Civil Protection Department. (Id. art. 30(1).)

Citizen Participation in Civil Protection Activities

The NCSP must promote the inclusion of citizens in civil protection activities and the dissemination of civil protection knowledge and culture. (Id. art. 31(1)–(3).)

Organization of Civil Protection Volunteers at the National and Regional Levels

The National Roster of Civil Protection Volunteers constitutes the operative instrument that secures the participation of organized volunteers in civil protection activities at the national level. (Id. art. 34(1).) Volunteers must receive previous education and training. (Id. art. 34(2).) The Law also promotes the organization of groups of civil protection volunteers as parts of the Third Sector (which comprises organizations—such as associations, volunteer organizations, and philanthropic foundations—formed to pursue the common good, with the goal of achieving full human development and employment opportunities for all Italians.) (Id. art. 35(1); Dante Figueroa, Italy: Code to Regulate Nongovernmental Organizations, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Oct. 4, 2017).) The Law also creates the National Committee for Civil Protection Volunteers with the purpose of coordinating the activities of volunteers at the national level. (2018 CIVIL PROTECTION CODE art. 42(1).)