Legal framework
Legal framework

The legal framework analysis aims to provide general knowledge of the national cooperative legislation and of its main characteristics and contents, with particular regard to those aspects of regulation regarding the identity of cooperatives and its distinction from other types of business organisations, notably the for-profit shareholder corporation.

It aims to evaluate whether the national legislation in place supports or hampers the development of cooperatives, and is therefore “cooperative friendly” or not, and the degree to which it may be considered so, also in comparison to the legislation in force in other countries of the ICA region, or at the supranational level.

In addition, the research aims to provide recommendations for eventual renewal of the legal frameworks in place in order to understand what changes in the current legislation would be necessary to improve its degree of “cooperative friendliness”, which is to say, to make the legislation more favourable to cooperatives, also in consideration of their specific identity. This webpage presents a snapshot of the current legal framework analysis results for Italy. Prior to the completion of the research on key figures, the statistics available above are sourced from The Power of Cooperation – Cooperatives Europe Key Figures (2015).



In Italy, the main rules are contained in the Civil Code (articles 2511-2548) within the general framework on companies. At the same time there are separate acts specifically dedicated to cooperatives. There are also special laws on particular types of cooperatives (worker cooperatives, social cooperatives and cooperative banks). All the ICA Principles of cooperative identity are referred to in the Italian law.

A full report on the Italian legal framework analysis and a highlights document are available to download by clicking on the links above.

The main cooperative regulations in Italy are displayed below


Main regulations relevant to cooperatives in Italy


Decreto Legislativo 14 December 1947 No.1577 - Provvedimenti per la cooperazione’ or ‘Measures for cooperation’ otherwise known as the “Basevi Law”, the first law that organically regulated the model of a cooperative society.

Legge 13 January 1992 No. 59 - ‘Nuove norme in materia di società cooperative’ or ‘New rules on cooperative societies’ introduces in particular the investors members and the holders of cooperative shares, as well as the mutualistic fund, inter alia.

Decreto Legislativo 2 August 2002 No. 220 - ‘Norme in materia di riordino della vigilanza sugli enti cooperativi’ or ‘law on the reorganization of the supervision of cooperatives’ which rules on the supervision of cooperative entities, with particular reference to the position of the worker member.

Legge 27 February 1985 No. 49 - Misure per il credito e cooperazione or measures for credit and cooperation’ known as the “Marcora Law” which refers to employment and worker buyouts.


Cooperative friendliness

The Italian legislation has high degree of “cooperative friendliness”. The Italian legislation on cooperatives can be considered one of the most advanced and complete at European level, also because it is based on the specific constitutional recognition of the social function of cooperation. Cooperative law in Italy is therefore considered to be well developed.


Key recommendations for improvement

A major issue is the existence of ‘false cooperatives’. The false cooperatives are companies that evade proper control and are a barrier to the many cooperatives that operate legally. They represent a real and perceived economic loss for other cooperatives. It would be necessary to improve and intensify the cooperative external control in order to reduce this phenomenon. In addition, the promotion of national legislation on community cooperatives is a key priority.



Italian cooperative law is a strong framework, which may serve as an example for other countries. It can be stated that legislative changes are not presently needed, but that administrative simplifications are required.



The legal frameworks analysis is a tool developed under the ICA-EU Partnership #coops4dev. It is an overview of the national legal frameworks at the time of writing. The views expressed within are not necessarily those of the ICA, nor does a reference to any specific content constitute an explicit endorsement or recommendation by the ICA.

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