EU Commission chastises Italy over lettori discrimination

EU Commissioner Nicolas Schmit

BRUSSELS — Italy’s failure to compensate for discrimination against foreign university lecturers “constititutes a serious reason for concern” and the EU Commission “is currently preparing next steps\decisions,” the EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, told MEPs.

 In a reply to a question tabled by Irish MEPs, Mr Schmit said “As the Commission noted in its replies to written questions E-001173/2020, E-590/2020 and P-000142/2020, in order to address issues concerning the reconstruction of careers of linguistic associates (‘Lettori’ in Italian), Italy adopted Law 167/2017, which allocated funds to Universities and Interministerial Decree 765/2019, which creates a standard local collective agreement."

 "The economic parameter provided for in the Decree is in line with the European Court of Justice’s case law, as it refers to the treatment of a part time tenured researcher from the first date of recruitment.” “The Commission has been in regular dialogue with the Italian authorities since 2011, through the EU Pilot 2011/2079, to clarify some aspects of this contractual arrangement and to get full and clear information on the contractual situation of the Lettori in the Italian universities,” Mr Shmit added.

 “While the EU Pilot allowed resolving a number of issues, the main issue remains: the adequate reconstruction of Lettori’s careers and the corresponding payment of the arrears due to them from the first date of employment, in line with the European Court of Justice’s ruling.”

 “On 6 April 2021, the Italian authorities provided the results of a nation-wide survey performed with all the State universities, which provides a complete picture of the Lettori situation.” “The Commission has carefully analysed the information gathered in this context and since it has found that it constitutes a serious reason for concern, the Commission is currently preparing appropriate next steps/decisions.”

 The statement was the strongest yet by the EU Commission on the long-running saga of racist discrimination against non-Italian lecturers in Italian universities, raising hopes that Italy may finally be brought to book for the injustice.