A wide  range  of  opportunities is  available  for  new  investments and  for  expanding and strengthening existing  ones. There  are  three different sources  of  incentives: European, national  and  regional.  In some cases, incentives are  offered without distinction to  both Italian and foreign entities based in Italy.

The  incentives provided  by the  European Union  and  Italian central  and  local  government aim  to  enhance regional  development and  competitiveness  by  supporting local business activities, reinforcing existing ones or helping start-up initiatives by promoting and integrating research, innovation  and training programmes.

The European Incentives Plan for 2007-2013 is aimed at increasing growth and employment within the EU Member States and  operates with  a specific  focus  on  regions. The plan’s priorities   include   areas such   as   knowledge  and   innovation,   transport,  environmental protection, human resources, competitiveness and modernisation of the economy.

In order to increase effectiveness, the Italian government has combined its national incentive plans  with  the  European one.  From  2007  to 2013,  approximately EUR  125  billion will be available to support investments in Italy, with a strong concentration in the southern regions.

Implementation is through the  National  Strategic Reference Framework and  the  National Operational Programmes  and  Regional  Operational Programmes,  and  the  following  EU Structural Funds  are involved:

The European  Regional Development Fund (ERDF)  – Its aim is to finance infrastructures and manufacturing plants  to create and safeguard sustainable jobs. The ERDF is especially addressed  to SMEs  and provides various financing facilities, including venture capital, debt  and guarantee funds,  etc.

The areas of investment include  development of industrial  sites, research and technology, information technology, protection of the environment, energy, education, equal opportunities, and transnational, cross-border and interregional co-operation.

The European Social Fund (ESF) – The ESF aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion by improving employment and job opportunities, establishing the following priorities.

  • Increasing flexibility of workers, enterprises and entrepreneurs
  • Enhancing access to the labour market
  • Promoting the social inclusion of disadvantaged people
  • Enhancing networking between higher education, research and busines
  • Promoting and mainstreaming innovative  social activities  at both international and interregional level
  • Strengthening the effectiveness of the public administration and services (only in the south of Italy).

Convergence: aligning conditions for growth and employment in the least developed Member States and regions (in Italy the eligible regions are Sicily, Campania, Apulia and Calabria - and Basilicata as a ‘phasing-out’ region)

Regional competitiveness and employment: fostering economic and social development, and promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, environmental protection and the development of labour markets even  in regions not covered by the Convergence objective (in Italy the eligible regions  are all the other regions  not included in the Convergence objective)

European  territorial cooperation: which is aimed  at strengthening cross-border, transnational and inter-regional  cooperation in the fields of urban development, rural and coastal development, development of economic relationships and networking of SMEs.