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COMITES and CGIE regulations


Established by Law of 6 November 1989, No. 368 (amended by Law of 18 June 1998, No. 198), and regulated by Presidential Decree of 14 September 1998, No. 329, the CGIE carries out advisory activities for the government on matters of major interest for Italians abroad. The Council represents the first step in the process of developing active “participation” in the political life of the country by Italian communities residing abroad, and constitutes an institution essential to facilitating their permanent connection to Italy.

The General Council of Italians Abroad meets at the following levels: Plenary Assembly, Continental Committees and committees treating different subject matters. It is made up of 94 members, 65 of which are elected directly every five years by Italians abroad through local electoral assemblies (the latest elections took place in June 2004 on the basis of a geographic distribution defined by the Foreign Affairs Ministry Decree of 4 May 2004). In addition to the elected members, there are 29 members appointed by Decree of the Prime Minister, on the recommendations of the National Emigration Associations, the parties represented in parliament, the trade union organisations and by the most representative charitable institutions.

The President of the CGIE is the Minister for Foreign Affairs, while the following posts are elected: the Secretary General (who convenes the Plenary Assembly and the Presidential Committee, organises its work programme and implements its decisions taken); the four Deputy Secretaries General for the three geographic areas (Europe and North Africa; Latin America; Non-European English-speaking countries) and for the group of members appointed by the government; and the Presidential Committee (made up of 17 members), that meets at least six times a year. During the two annual plenary assemblies, the advisory body, the CGIE, examines the problems of Italian communities abroad, formulates opinions, proposals and recommendations in terms of state or regional legislative or administrative initiatives, international agreements and EU provisions concerning Italian communities abroad. In particular, the CGIE formulates an obligatory opinion on the government’s objectives with regard to the following topics: state financial support for Italian communities abroad; long-term programmes and financial arrangements in respect of educational policy, professional training and social and welfare protection; criteria for the allocation of funds to national associations, charitable organisations, professional training bodies, press and information bodies; radio and television programmes for the Italian communities abroad; guidelines for the reforming of the consular, education and social services.


Instituted by Law no. 205/1985, the Com.It.Es. are representative bodies for Italian communities elected directly by Italians residing abroad in every Consular jurisdiction where there are over 3,000 Italian nationals; in fact, wherever there are at least 3,000 Italian citizens, the Committees can be appointed by the diplomatic-consular authorities.

Com.it.Es regulations were heavily amended by Law of 26 October 2003, No. 286 and by Presidential Decree of 29 December 2003, No. 395 (Implementation Regulation). Among the many changes was the introduction of the absentee ballot in Committee elections; the law refers to the procedure foreseen by the Law of 27 December 201 No. 459: the electoral base is the same as that foreseen for the election of national parliamentary representatives.

The Com.It.Es are made up of 12 or 18 members, depending on whether they are elected in consular jurisdictions with more or less than 100,000 Italian nationals residing, which result as being on the updated list used to elect national parliamentary representatives. Once elected, the Committee can then decide to co-opt 4 to 6 of its members who are foreign citizens of Italian origin.

Art. 1 paragraph 2 of Law 286/2003 represents a truly new perspective, defining the Com.It.Es. for the first time as “bodies representative of Italians abroad in their relations with the diplomatic-consular representations”. Their role is thus enhanced with regard to the society of which they are an expression as well as with regard to the consular authorities. The new law emphasises the close relationship of collaboration and cooperation that should exist between consular authorities and the Committees, also by means of the “steady flow of information”.

As regards their function, the Com.It.Es contribute to studyies and research and defining the needs implied by the social, cultural and civil development of their reference communities; particular attention is given to young people, equal opportunity, social and scholastic assistance, professional training, the recreational sector, sport and leisure activities.

The Committees are also called upon to cooperate with the consular authorities in the protection of the rights and interests of Italian citizens residing in the consular jurisdiction. Following the March 2004 elections there are now 126 Com.It.Es operating in 38 countries: 69 of these are in Europe, 23 in Latin America, 4 in Central American, 16 in North America, 7 in Asia and 7 in Africa.