Milan proposes tax-free area on Expo grounds

City, region ask government to help.

In a cross-party move uniting the right-wing Lombardy regional administration and Milan’s left-wing city hall, regional governor Roberto Maroni and city mayor Beppe Sala have written to prime minister Matteo Renzi to propose a tax-free zone in Milan.

The trigger for the proposal came from the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union – or Brexit – which could open up important opportunities for Italy’s financial and economic “capital”.

Already on the afternoon of the announcement of the Brexit referendum in Britain, Sala had said he had ideas on how Milan could exploit the decision. Within days, he had gone to London to explain the advantages of relocation to Milan to two important EU agencies concerned about their future in a UK outside the union.

Now, concluding a one and a half hour meeting, Sala and Maroni have written to Renzi to ask for support for a plan to create a tax-free zone on the former grounds of Expo Milano 2015. The area already has Renzi’s backing to create a technical and scientific “Technopole”, and this new proposal could bring even more business and prestige to the city.

The regional and city leaders sent Renzi a prospectus with the title “Post Brexit – opportunities for Milan, Lombardy and Italy”, which set out the proposal for a tax-free zone to attract start-ups, highly technological companies, multinationals and new investment.

“The role of the government in reaching this goal is fundamental,” reads the joint letter to Rome. “We therefore ask you to join in the operative coordination we are setting up. This coordination should be made up of representatives of all stakeholders: the Lombardy region, the city of Milan, the universities, the Lombardy business world, and also central government.”

Pointing out the cross-party agreement, Maroni commented: “The region and the city are on the same side for reaching this result. That’s an important message which I’m confident will persuade central government to join our team. We’re optimistic, but time is of the essence.”