Updates on the Italian Third Sector Reform

Updates on the Italian Third Sector Reform

The section will be updated on further developments on Italian social enterprises’ legislation not included in the National Report. Therefore, this post will be updated shortly after every significant news.


  • The 12th of May 2006, the Italian law on social enterprise (Decreto Legislativo 155/2006 “Disciplina dell’impresa sociale”) entered into force.

The law specifies the range of organizations eligible for qualification as “social enterprises”. The art. 1 of the law states that the achievement of “social enterprise” status is accessible to all private non-profit organizations “whose main and stable activity is finalized to the production or trade of social utility goods or services, designed to achieve objectives of general interest”. Accordingly, the “impresa sociale” is not a completely new legal form or a new kind of organization; it is a legal qualification acquirable by eligible entities with different organizational structures carrying out an economic activity aimed at the production and distribution of socially oriented goods and services.
The art. 2 of the law identifies the general-interest services, which are those supplied in the following sectors: welfare services, health, education, environmental services, integration in the workplace of underprivileged or disabled people.
This new law on social enterprises is not supported by fiscal advantages.

  • The 10th of July 2014, the Council of Italian Ministers approved the draft law on reforming the third sector (Riforma del Terzo settore, dell’impresa sociale e per la disciplina del Servizio civile universale).The main features foreseen by the draft law are the following:

a. Redefinition of the social enterprise as a private enterprise with objectives of general interest, with the primary purpose of achieving measurable positive social impacts. These must be obtained through the production or trading of socially useful goods and services, utilizing social enterprises’ profits for the achievement of social objectives, including the adoption of participatory models.

b. Mandatory qualification as social enterprise for those organizations that comply with the requirements.

c. Expansion of sectors that carry out socially useful activities and identification of compatibility limitations for commercial activities that have not social objectives.

d. Possible remuneration for capital and profit sharing.

e. Rationalization of the categories of disadvantaged workers in order to take into account new forms of social exclusion.

f. Possibility for private enterprises and public administrations to undertake social positions in the administration boards of social enterprises (apart from a management role)

g. Coordination of the discipline of social enterprises with the system regulating business activities carried out by socially useful non-profit organizations.During the twelve months following the entry into force of the law, the Italian Government will adopt the legislative decrees to reform the sector.


2006: Act n. 155, Disciplina dell’Impresa Sociale

2014: Draft Law on reforming the Third Sector