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Italian MPs twice as pricey as German MPs

Italian MPs are raking in the cash compared to their European counterparts. Taking home €10,400 a month, they also earn thousands more than the average Italian. But are they worth it? The Local asks Luca Verzichelli, a politics professor at the University of Siena.

Italian MPs twice as pricey as German MPs
Italy has 630 MPs and 315 elected senators. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Despite its dire economy, Italy’s politicians are not exactly feeling the pinch.

One senator, formerly the governor of Milan, went about his official business in a €270,000 BMW.

Regional politicians have also come under scrutiny. Earlier this month the regional council of Emila-Romagna was put under investigation for its suspected expenses, claiming for everything from cheese to toilet breaks.

Politicians who are elected to parliament, with a seat in Rome, are generously rewarded.

According to Verzichelli, an MP's monthly income is €10,400. Around half of that is base salary, with the rest being made up of allowances. Meanwhile, €3,500 of the lump sum is set aside to pay for accommodation while MPs work in the capital.

Politicians are usually well-paid, but the income of Italian MPs is exceptionally high according to Verzichelli.

“In studies done in recent years, it has emerged that the financial cost per capita of each Italian MP is around double that of a German MP, and around three times that of a French MP,” he says.

“This does not mean that Italian MPs earn twice as much as the Germans, but the ‘cost’ is double, considering the taxes on the various incomes, the deductions, etc.”

At the end of 2012 the Italian politicians agreed a cut of 10 percent, but Verzichelli says their earnings remains an “enormous waste of public resources”.

“Italy is without a doubt a country in which politicians, in respect to the rest of the population, earn a lot. Too much,” he says.

For Verzichelli, the token 10 percent pay cut will have little impact on the true cost of Italian politics.

“It is clearly a waste that can only be tackled with structural reforms of the system, not with slight changes to the marginal aspects of MPs’ allowances,” he says.

This means getting rid of some politicians entirely: “I would prefer to reduce the total number of MPs in Italy…There are 630 MPs and 315 elected senators, in addition to senators for life.” Comparatively, Germany has 630 politicians in its entire parliamentary system.

With a fragile coalition government holding the reins of power, cutting back on parliamentary seats is unlikely to happen any time soon.

While political progress remains at a near standstill, Verzichelli says transparency should at least be improved.

“Oblige MPs to produce receipts of their spending, which the administration of the chamber of deputies can reimburse. This is a practice asked of public officials,” he says.

This may not sit well with some Italian politicians, as corruption scandals continue to plague politics. Just a week ago Silvio Berlusconi, three-time prime minister, was indicted on charges of bribing a senator

Unsurprisingly, 89 percent of Italians believe their politicians are corrupt.

While Verzichelli says MPs salaries are undoubtedly too high, he says the principle of decent pay for public representatives is legitimate.

But the figure of €10,400 stands in stark contrast to the income of many Italians. According to national statistics agency, Istat, 12.7 percent of Italians were living in the relative poverty, with a monthly income of €991 shared between two people.

“We must increase the salaries of normal people,” says Verzichelli. “Those salaries are very low when compared with other European countries, and too far from the salaries of elected politicians in parliament or those in institutions.”

SEE ALSO: Italian MPs among highest paid in Europe

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WORKING IN ITALY

What to know about getting an Italian work permit in 2023

Italy has released details of the number of work permits available this year and which types of workers can apply. Here's what to know if you're thinking of moving to Italy for work from outside the EU.

What to know about getting an Italian work permit in 2023

Each year, the Italian government sets out exactly how many work permits it will grant to non-EU citizens. and for which industries.

The Italian government released the details of the 2023 quota at the end of January, confirming that a total of 82,705 permits will be available this year.

This is significantly higher than in previous years, with just under 70,000 permits issued in 2022, and 30,000 in 2021.

Some 44,000 of this year’s permits are intended for seasonal workers, in industries including agriculture and tourism.

READ ALSO: How to get an Italian work visa

Most of the remaining permits are reserved for those on longer-term employment contracts, and the majority of those can only be allocated to firms hiring workers in the following sectors:

  • Road haulage
  • Construction
  • Hospitality and tourism
  • Mechanics
  • Telecommunications
  • Food
  • Shipbuilding

However this year’s decree also brings in new and stricter criteria for issuing these permits.

For non-seasonal permits, employers must now confirm with Italian government employment agencies that no qualified Italian nationals are available to do the jobs before putting in an authorisation request.

READ ALSO: The jobs in Italy that will be most in demand in 2023

This requirement is waived for workers who have completed training programmes in their country of origin that are specifically designed to send workers to Italy. Find further details from the Italian labour ministry here (in Italian).

Applications for this year’s permits will open on March 27th.

Getting one of these permits is just the start. As a non-EEA citizen, there are three main documents you’ll need to live and work in Italy: a work permit (nulla osta), a work visa (visto) and a residency permit (permesso di soggiorno).

Find out more information about the types of Italian work visa available here.

Self-employed workers

As in previous years, in 2023 only 500 permits in total have been made available to self-employed workers. Those eligible include artists, and entrepreneur investors who will create at least three jobs in Italy, but competition for these limited place is fierce.

While Italy approved a ‘digital nomad’ visa in March 2022 that many hoped would make it easier for freelance workers to move to Italy, there have been no updates since and the plan now seems to have been abandoned by Italy’s new government.

The new decree setting out Italy’s 2023 work permit quota does not cover visa rules, so there was no mention of it here.

EU Blue Card

There is one possible way for highly-qualified workers to move to Italy for work outside of the work permit quota: The EU Blue Card is available to non-EU nationals, and the requirements include an undergraduate degree and a firm job offer from an Italian company, with a salary of at least €24,789.

Find out more about the EU Blue Card scheme in a separate article here.

Please note that The Local is unable to advise on individual cases or assist with job applications.

For more information about visa and residency permit applications, see the Italian Foreign Ministry’s visa website, or contact your embassy or local Questura (police headquarters) in Italy.

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