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Italy

Italy is a Republic headed by a President appointed by Parliament and has a population of 57.3 million. For administrative purposes the country is divided into 20 Regions (Regioni), 95 Provinces (Provincie) and some 8000 local Municipalities (Comuni). For identification purposes each province is given an abbreviation eg TO for Torino (Turin), MI=Milano (Milan), FI=Firenze (Florence). The territory of each Italian province (which are roughly equivalent to counties in the UK) contains two separate administrations. One is the local representative government, which undertakes certain functions specifically entrusted to it by law, and the other is a decentralised unit of the central government. Regions are headed by a Commissioner appointed by Central Government and a locally elected President. In addition to enforcing national laws the Regional councils also have some legislative powers.

Italy became a Republic with the adoption of a new constitution in 1948. The Provincie and Comuni both have directly elected councils, an executive board and a President or, Mayor. The latter is constitutionally an officer of the central government and accordingly has certain consumer protection functions as well as responsibility for publishing laws, regulations and other State pronouncements. Total land area of Italy is approximately 300,000 sq km.

Law 1987 No. 183 on the coordination of enforcement of EU legislation in the Italian national legal system requires the Prime Minister or the Minister for Community Policy to notify Parliament and the Regions of new Directives within 30 days of their adoption. This notification also applies to regions with special status: Friuli-Venezia Giula, Sardegna, Sicilia, Trentino-Alto Adige and Valle D'aosta. The Government must inform Parliament about the compatibility of the Directives with Italian law within 90 days. The Minister for Community Policy must present the new law to Parliament before 31 January for ratification by 1 March each year. The Regions with special status and the cities of Trento and Bolzano may adopt new EC Directives immediately as published in the Official journal. Where Directives have not been implemented by the Regions or autonomous cities the Government can set up a Commission consisting of three members which can under Prime Ministerial responsibility exercise the powers normally vested in the relevant Ministry.

Organisational Structure and Background

Legal metrology in Italy is primarily a central government responsibility. The Ufficio Centrale Metrico (UCM), Central Metrology Section, is one of twelve divisions of the Direzione Cenerale del Commercio Interno e dei Consumi Industria-li (DC) del Ministero Industria e Commercio. The DC is one of several in the Ministry. UCM's full title is 'Ufficio Centrale Metrico e del Saggio dei Metalli Preziosi reflecting its dual metrology and assaying functions. In addition to its headquarters in Rome, where primary standards are maintained, the UCM has sub-offices in each of the 95 Provincie (Uffici Provinciali Metrici). These sub-offices report back through larger offices in the principal towns or cities of the 20 Regioni.

Inspection duties, and the investigation of offences, are often performed by the Police. The Prefetture of the Ministero dell' Interno has an office in each of the 95 Provincie and the local Prefetto (prefect) has responsibility for the provincial coordination of the metrological functions performed by the Carabinieri, the Agenti di Polizia and the Vigili Urbani.

The Italian legal metrology system dates back to that instituted in the Kingdom in 1870. The basic law "Regio Decreto 23 agosto 1890" still forms the basic framework of control.

Equipment Subject to National Controls

  • Simple length measures in trade use
  • Non-liquid volume measures
  • Liquid volume measures
  • Dipsticks
  • Medium accuracy weights in trade use
  • Liquid volume metering instruments

    • Petroleum
    • Liquefied petroleum gas
    • Bulk milk
    • Lubricating oil
    • Heating oil

  • Cold water meters (type approval and initial verification) (not mandatory)
  • Gas volume meters (type approval and initial verification)
  • Electricity meters (type approval and initial verification) (not mandatory)
  • Non-automatic weighing instruments

    • Self-indicating
    • Non self-indicating

  • Automatic weighing instruments
  • Discontinuous totalising

    • Continuous totalising (beltweighers)
    • Gravimetric filling
    • Rail weighbridges
    • Catch weighers

      • Checkweighers
      • Weight graders

  • Weigh/price labeller and weigh labeller
  • Medical measuring instruments

    • Clinical thermometers

  • Road traffic instruments

    • Tyre pressure gauges (type approval and initial verification) (not mandatory)

  • Law enforcement instruments

    • Chronotachgraphs

  • Depth gauges for liquids for tax purposes
  • Measuring instruments for grading cereals
  • Warm water meters (type approval and initial verification) (not mandatory)

Type Approval

Type approval is a function of UCM. It has a staff of 15 inspectors. The Comitato Centrale Metrico appraises and comments upon all type approval proposals. It may also make recommendations to UCM. UCM will use external laboratories to perform type testing on its behalf if it does not have sufficient facilities itself. In such cases tests are carried out in those laboratories in the presence of a UCM or Officio Provinciale Metrico inspector. UCM has no plans to extend its facilities. Type approval fees are set by law. Certificates are published only in Italian. The most numerous national type approval certificates are issued for non-automatic weighing instruments, followed by liquid volume metering instruments other than water and gas meters.

Initial Verification

The 179 inspectors of the 95 Uffici Provinciali Metrici are responsible for all initial verification. There is no system of accredited laboratory verification but a decree for manufacturer self-declaration of conformity for instruments subject to national type approvals other than for chronotachographs is in preparation. Fees are stipulated in law and available from bookshops selling government publications.

Inspection and Reverification

A mandatory verification system operates with reverification intervals specified in law:

trade weights 2 years
weighing instruments in trade use 2 years
petrol pumps 2 years

The function is performed by the Uffici Provinciali Metrici.

In 1991 400,000 non-automatic weighing instruments were reverified, 5% failing. About 100,000 petrol pumps were subject to reverification in the same period with a 7% failure rate. Normal error allowances are mpe x 1 (mpe x 2 for instruments subject to 90/384/EEC).

Police officers will randomly inspect weighing and measuring equipment but play no part in the reverification process.

Legal Metrology Practitioners

The 15 inspectors performing type approval work at UCM will generally be degree qualified in science or engineering. They receive 6 months formal training on entry followed by an examination at UCM.

The inspectors in the Uffici Provinciali Metrici will normally have a superior college diploma. They also receive 6 months training at UCM followed by an examination. Inspectors are sent to a provinical office nominated by the DC. No quality assurance training is yet received.

Inspectors are generally constrained to the inspection and verification of metrological equipment. They are however responsible for system approval and monitoring under average quantity prepackages legislation.

Sanctions

Administrative fines may be imposed in minor cases involving the use of equipment outside tolerances. In such cases the inspector may prepare a report for his provincial office and decide on the level of penalty appropriate. The trader would pay such an amount into a post office for onward transmission to the Ministry of Finance. The inspector may also impose fines for prepackages found outside T2. Penalties imposed by inspectors in, for example, the absence of evidence of mandatory reverification or required seals will range from 5000 Lira to 50,000 Lira.

Equipment may be confiscated when found unverified or unsealed or when found to exceed mpe x 2. Additionally if the trader fails to comply with an order from the inspector for the instrument to be repaired the instrument may be seized.

It is possible for an inspector to initiate a court prosecution. However, such cases are normally only reserved for those involving the fraudulent use of equipment.

Directive 90/384/EEC

The Directive was implemented by Decree No. 517 December 29 1992. The notified body for type approval is the Direzione Generale del Commerico Intemo e dei Consumi industriali del Ministero Industria e Commercio - Ufficio Centrale Metrico. The notified bodies for EC verification are the 95 Uffici Provinciali Metrici. The question of gravity values is to be regulated by decree.

The Decree of December 29 1992 makes it an offence to use an instrument outside of its marked weighing range. It does not designate instrument classes to be used for particular applications. In current Italian national law there are such requirements but they are not within the competence of the UCM or regional offices, for example butchers shops and delicatessen must use instruments with a verification scale interval (e)- 2g, bakers shops (e)-5g.

Italy's national accreditation scheme is still in draft stage. No decisions have yet been made on implementation of the manufacturer declaration of conformity provisions of the Directive so far as UCM and provincial office inspector involvement is concerned. UCM however will not be responsible for EN29000 systems approval.

Updated March 2003