Italian cabinet approves the principle of a legal recognition of professional associations

The Italian Cabinet issued last Friday a legislative decree to reform professions and recognize professional associations. This development comes as a second step towards the liberalization of the economy….
This in no way implies that the public relations profession in my country has made a ‘giant step forward’, as the decree gives the government one year to negotiate the consensus of both existing legally recognized and highly protectionists guilds (journalists, doctors, lawyers, accountants and the like) and hundreds of screaming and yelling associations (massagists, public relators, callists and the lot) who claim recognition.
It is however a progress in the sense that the decree formally states that only associations which impact on the public interest will be recognized and that existing guilds who no longer impact on the public interest (assuming they ever did) will turn into non recognized association. Of course, the day following the announcement politicians hurried to inform existing guilds as well as associations that they all impact on the public interest.
It will be interesting to learn how the public interest will be defined to accomodate all these expectancies.
A real can of worms, but one more indication that Europe is quickly moving towards some sort of central public scrutiny of how today’s professions are exercised.
One more reason for professional associations to get their act together quickly to avoid each country deciding different standards, thus endangering the application of the Bolkenstein free flow of services directive which, although highly diluted and massacred by three years of lobby efforts in Bruxelles, has just recently been approved by the EU institutions.
Food for thought for Cerp and its members…

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3 Replies to “Italian cabinet approves the principle of a legal recognition of professional associations

  1. One of the big diffgerences between Canada and the United States is our tendency in Canada to set out broad principles for behaviour, for example, while our friends and neighbors to the south prefer long lists of rules.

    Up here, “you get the point” means something. Down there, “let’s look for the loophoole” means somethng.

    Yesterday, for instance, the world learned that American policitians don’t get in trouble for failing to whack their buddy the page-pervert, becuse there was no written down rule about page-preverting.

    So, if a government was to regulate public relations and/or corporate communciations, etc., what approach would it use? Rules or standards?

    In lots of coutnries, governments have lobbyise registers. In Canada, these came about after I stopped doing government relations work pretty much every day, and I have not followed the rules, except to note that they are pretty flexible in various Canadian jurisdictions.

    I’m curious too about how reporters would deal with information sources.

    I own a company with “Communications” in its name, and I work with another company with “Communications” inits name, partly because the PR associations have done nothing to defend the profession and it is in disreturte in the minds of many people.

    So can a reporter talk to me, with me not registered / approved by a government, about a client.

    But if the same client hired NameGoesHere Public Reltions, would the reporter be responsible for checking whether the company was registered and approved? Or is it the employee who speaks to the media that needs to be approved, not the company?

    Lawyers and accountants and taxi drivers (we’re going to be in the same calss as taxi drivers? Wow!) are indiovidually approved.

    But the individuals are all gethered together into some society — the Law Society of Upper Canada int he case of lawyers in Canada’s larget provice — note this is not national but provincial –so who will get the right to put us into the corral, IABC or CPRS or something new?

    But last week and this, I’m making arrangements for Canadians to go to Washington and talk to government officials, inthe public srvie and elected. So, would I need an international license?

    Seems to me there’s more importnat fish to fry, so to speak, than getting governments into more regulation.

    Besides, there are no people for whom I have less respect than the PR operatives surrounding the the Prime Minister of Canada.


  2. Jean,
    You refer to the fact that our colleagues at cipr have demonstrated that obtaining recognition from their goverment propved to be a rela advantage…this was my impression/hope also. Is this really so? In what sense?
    Ferpi will surely present its case and the issue is what the legislator means by ‘public interest’ when comparing pr to pedicure ( foot!). I won’t be a quick process anyway and one of the main points will be convincing employee, investor, public sector, political, lobbying and other public relations associations to stand a united front based on the principle that we are in the same boat….

  3. Toni, This may not be a giant step forward but it is hardly going backwards!
    As our colleagues at CIPR have demonstrated, obtaining recognition from their governement proved to be a real advantage in the professionalisation of the profession.
    Is FERPI going to present its case? Are there other competing groups like advertsing who will claim the PR ground for themsleves? I think all CERP members should carefully monitor this development and assist FERPI in achiveing recognition. I am sure you and your colleagues in Italy will build a convincing case to support the public interest requirement.

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