The law which was recently approved by Regional Council of Lombardy regulating ethnic shops is “unconstitutional”, the government has ruled.
The government has in fact urged the Constitutional Court to abolish it, arguing that some of its norms may be in conflict with the national and European Union laws, as well as with the Constitution.
Under the so-called Harlem law which was sponsored by the Northern League Party, foreigners planning to open bars, restaurants, kebab shops, or any other ethnic shops in Lombardy Region are required to prove that they have knowledge of Italian language.
In order for them to open ethnic shops within the historical centres, the local mayor has to approve that the shops are not in any way, dealing in products which are against the traditions of Padania.
Harlem law states that foreign citizenships who would like to create businesses that involve selling food and drinks have to prove that they have good knowledge of Italian language. Those who don’t know Italian have to go for language courses organised by the Chamber of Commerce.
All information about the businesses including shop signs, product packaging, etc must be translated into Italian.
Local municipal councils, under the new law, have powers to ensure diversity of businesses in the historical centres. They also have powers to ban the opening of ethnic shops which they believe deal in products which are against the conservation of the city’s artistic, historical, environmental traditions, etc.
Massimiliano Orsatti, the Northern League Councillor who designed the Harlem Law, claimed that it was aimed at managing immigration in a responsible manner, and to avoid the creation of ghettos and unfair competition.
Many politicians criticized the law saying that it will be an obstacle to immigrant entrepreneurs planning to establish businesses in the area.
Reacting immediately after the approval of the law, Councillor Arianna Cavicchioli of the Democratic Party described it as “discriminatory” and “unconstitutional”. The Council has approved a law that will be blocked by the Constitutional Court because it is illegitimate, she warned.
And she was seemingly right.