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Luiss Guido Carli

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Pier Luigi Petrillo: lobbying and dynamic democracy

Pier Luigi Petrillo, an expert on the relationship between public administration and advocacy groups, talks about how he went from being a LUISS student to a LUISS professor

"I was a student at LUISS almost twenty years ago: I studied Law at the Via Parenzo campus. Coming back here as a professor has been a real thrill and an honor." Pier Luigi Petrillo is now an associate professor of Comparative Law and Legal Advisor for the European Semester, Expo and UNESCO at the Ministry of the Environment, but he hasn’t forgotten his experience at LUISS. He started out here as a student and then became professor of Lobbying Theories and Techniques at the Department of Political Science.

22amAs an expert on the relationship between public administration and advocacy groups, Petrillo argues that "in every democracy, lobbying is considered an essential part of the decision-making process. The existence of citizens, associations and companies that mobilize to influence public decision-makers so as to gain an advantage, demonstrates the dynamism of democracy, its pluralistic essence." In Italy, however, there is still a strong bias against these roles, in large part due to the absence of rules imposing transparency on the lobbying process. "Or rather,” as the professor explains, “there are rules, but lawmakers do everything to avoid complying with them."

The situation is similar to that of a patient who "purports to do one thing and then does the opposite" and for this reason needs to be cured. "When I analyze Italian regulatory lobbying, I’m talking about creeping regulation with a schizophrenic pattern. This means that there are already many regulations regarding the transparency of the decision-making process, but these regulations are ignored by the same entities that approved them (the government, Parliament, the regions, etc.)."

With regard to his professional career in the service of public institutions, Petrillo warmly remembers Professor Carmela Decaro, a LUISS professor of Comparative Public Law. "I met her when she was the Vice Secretary General of the Presidency of the Republic. She asked me to work with her at the Quirinale. And during that time I learned a method of working that turned out to be crucial for all of my subsequent assignments. I undoubtedly owe it all to her."

This method also turned out to be a useful approach for his two other great interests, culture and the environment, and it taught him how to complete the lengthy, complex procedures required by the UNESCO task force, which led him first to the Ministry of Agriculture, then to the Ministry of Culture and finally to the Ministry of the Environment. "UNESCO is regulated by conventions, protocols and international programs. When a country wants to nominate a site or a culturally significant asset for UNESCO’s prestigious World Heritage List, it must scrupulously adhere to these rules and begin a process of reflection, studying, research and mediation which lasts, on average, 6-7 years for each application."

And now that his job is to share all that he has learned, every time he comes back to LUISS - now on the other side of the podium - Petrillo compares himself to his old professors. “On the first day of classes, I wondered what my students would be like, how they would react to my suggestions, if I would be able to get them involved and teach them what they don’t yet know, tools they can use in their future careers. As a student I appreciated those types of professors and I will never forget Professor Panunzio’s lectures in Constitutional Law or the ones on State Doctrine with Professors Galizia and Frosini, or Professor Mosco’s course in Commercial Law: these were professors who really knew how to communicate and that’s who I want to be like."