Small businesses along the Italian riviera have started to fly the Union flag to protest a European Union ruling which would open the area to multinational businesses. The small, local, often family run businesses of the Italian riviera are facing a threat to their livelihoods as a ruling on a European Union (EU) regulation could open the area to large multinational corporations.
The business owners fear that the huge companies could displace them and drive them from the Italian coastline that has become their livelihoods reports Il Secolo XIX. Over 1,500 local businesses have sought to protest the EU and they have chosen what they consider to be the ultimate symbol of defiance to Brussels’ overreach: the British Union flag, often known as the Union Jack.
The protests come in reaction to the ruling in an EU court which has said that Italy must abide by an EU legislation passed in 2006 which would open the area to multinational businesses – something that the Italians have long resisted. The Italian government has opted to protect locals who have sold their wares on the tourist laden beaches for generations.
The 1,500 businesses taking part in the protest released a statement to the Italian press explaining why they chose the Union flag saying, “We’re all British,” and added, “We’re all against Brussels technocrats who want to destroy an entire category of business owners”.
One businessman, Riccardo Borgo, who runs a small business on the beach in the Liguria region told Italian press: “We, like the British, want Europe to change pace,” directly referring to the British referendum on EU membership which resulted in a victory for the leave campaign. Mr. Borgo did not mince words with what he thought would be the inevitable consequences of continued overreach from Brussels saying: “Otherwise, ideally, we’ll leave with the door slamming.”
The British vote to leave the EU has had a huge knock on effect across Europe with many parties seeing the success of the leave campaign as a way to either reform the EU, or leave it entirely. Some, like Dutch politician Geert Wilders, praised the vote saying that it could lead to “liberation” from the political bloc, while others like the Danish People’s party said they would use Brexit as a road map for a Danish exit or “Danexit.”
The protests are not good news for embattled Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi who faces a referendum on senate reform later this year which many see as a vote of confidence not only in his government, but also Italian confidence on EU membership. Paired with a potential looming banking crisis coupled with the ever increasing waves of migrants many see a large crisis brewing in the Italian republic.