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Oh no, not the prosecco! Brits will have to pay more for favourite Italian tipple

Italian businesses operating in the UK are bracing themselves for the impact of Brexit, as are prosecco lovers, who will have to pay more for their favourite Italian sparkling wine.

Oh no, not the prosecco! Brits will have to pay more for favourite Italian tipple
Photo: Kris Connor/AFP

British Prime Minister Theresa May pulled the trigger on Article 50 on Wednesday, paving the way for negotiations with the EU over the UK’s exit from the union.

In the nine months since the British public voted to leave the bloc, businesses are still none the wiser over how the decision will affect them.

But one thing is clear: it will mean Brits paying a higher price for Italian food imports.

Italian producers of sparkling wine, meanwhile, are also hugely reliant on the British market, where sales surged by 33 percent in 2016, bringing them over €600,000 in revenues.

Producers fear the pricier beverage, especially with a weakened pound, could impact sales. Demand for prosecco, for now, is still robust, with consumption of the cheap fizz in the UK officially eclipsing Champagne in 2013.

“We are not crying just yet,” Domenico Bosco, a spokesperson for Coldiretti, the Italian farmers’ association, told The Local.

“The UK is the main market for prosecco and while demand hasn’t changed [since the referendum], British consumers will have to pay more for a product that they like to drink.

“Our production is also very much linked to the demand in the UK. It’s really clear that English consumers not only like prosecco and other sparkling wines very much, but also other ‘made in Italy’ food products, the price of which will also hit their wallets.”

It’s not only the food and driver sector that fares well from British custom: Italian companies within the technology, pharmaceutical, property and engineering sectors are also highly dependent on revenues from the UK.

But Brexit has left them in a precarious situation, with some businesses stalling investment amid the uncertainty.

“We would like to increase investments in London, it’s a very important market and we want to stay, but for now we have suspended investments there while we wait to see what the next step is – at the moment it’s impossible to understand what to do,” said Fabio de Felice, the founder of Protom, an IT company which opened an office in London with the aim of the city becoming its global hub.

“In my opinion, Brexit is a pity as the UK provides lots of opportunities for investment to lots of companies in Europe. I have also spoken to businesses based there which have lost a lot of money due to the currency devaluation.” 

BRITS IN EUROPE

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

After years of campaigns and promises British citizens living abroad finally won the lifelong right to vote in UK general elections in April 2022. But campaigners say more needs to be done to allow all those Britons abroad to be able cast their votes easily.

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

What’s in the law?

The Elections Act 2022 introduced several changes to the current legislation on electoral participation. Among these, it removed the rule by which British citizens lose their voting rights in the UK if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years

The new rules also abolished the requirement to have been previously registered in the UK electoral roll to become an overseas voter. In addition, the registration in the electoral roll will now last up to three years instead of only one year.

It is estimated that these changes could increase the number of overseas voter registrations by some 3 million. But the way new measures will be applied in practice is still to be defined.

READ ALSO: ‘Mixed feelings’ – British citizens in Europe finally get right to vote for life

Defining the practicalities

Under the new law, Britons living abroad will have to register to vote in the last place they were registered in the UK. This means that people who have never lived in the UK will be ineligible to vote, regardless of how long they have been overseas, while those who left when they were children will be able to use a parent or guardian’s address.

But given that the UK does not require residents to register with local councils, how to prove previous UK residence? “Typical documents accepted as a proof of residence are Council tax or utilities bills, but not everyone will have them or will have kept them in an international move,” says Fiona Godfrey, co-founder of the British in Europe coalition.

Ballot papers are pictured in stacks in a count centre as part of the 2019 UK general election. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)

Other questions concern how people will effectively cast their ballot. UK citizens overseas will be able to vote by post or by proxy or in person at their polling station if they are in the UK at the time of the election. However, few people are likely to travel to the UK for an election and in the past there have problems and delays with postal voting.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that overseas electors appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. But who could that be for people who have been away from their constituency for a long time?

New secondary legislation will have to answer these questions, defining how to be included in the electoral roll and how to exercise the voting right in practice.

According to British in Europe, the government should present draft legislation in the first half of the year so that the parliament can adopt it before summer and registrations of overseas voters can start in the autumn.

British in Europe survey

British in Europe are currently running a survey to understand the difficulties UK citizens abroad may face in the registration and voting process, as well as their intention to participate in elections.

The survey asks for instance which documents people can access to prove their previous residence in the UK, what problems they had voting in the past, and if and how they plan to vote in the future.

“We need to get an up-to-date picture of British citizens living around the world and have information to make recommendations to the government, as it prepares secondary legislation,” Godfrey said. “If millions of people will exercise their voting rights, there will be consequences for council registration offices, post office and authorities that will manage the process, among other things” she argued.

The right to vote concerns only UK parliamentary elections and national referendums, not elections in the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or at local level.

The survey is open to UK citizens living anywhere in the world and is available at this link.

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