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Devolution of political power is constantly on the political agenda in both Italy and Spain. Fiscal policy in these countries has granted specific privileges to some regions. Valle d’Aosta/Vallée d’Aoste (VdA) and País Vasco/Euskadi (PV) have an extensive say over spending decisions, and receive nearly all regional tax revenues. Although both VdA and PV are among the richest regions in each country, both are net beneficiaries of the fiscal equalisation system. This preferential treatment is the outcome of a fiscal system with limits on taxing power and debt issuance, and is meant as a compensation for the lack of autonomy. It so prevents calls for more fiscal autonomy, or even outright secession. The economic effects of this asymmetric federalism are negative. Although partial equalisation reduces excessive redistribution built in the fiscal equalisation system, more autonomy could pay off with more efficient government. Asymmetric federalism moreover creates a political impasse in the negotiation of a more efficient tax system and financing arrangement.
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