Lettori urge EU end 'relentless' Italian discrimination

MEP Jude Kirton-Darling

ROME – British Member of European Parliament (MEP) Jude Kirton-Darling backed the Association of Foreign Lecturers in Italy’s (ALLSI) call to European Commissioner of Justice Věra Jourová for the Commission to act urgently to end long running discrimination against British and other foreign lecturers working in Italian universities.

 “The fact the Association of Foreign Lectures have had to wait 30 years for justice, and the situation still remains unresolved, is simply unacceptable. The right to move freely around the union, and be treated equally when you do, goes to the very heart of our European values and the rights we enjoy as EU citizens. I call on the European Commission, and my colleagues in Italy to find a solution as a matter of urgency and provide long overdue justice to those affected,” wrote Ms. Kirton-Darling to the Commissioner.

 Outraged by the latest shenanigans of the Italian government after anti-discrimination measures against lettori in Italy again have been postponed, the ALLSI demanded a meeting with Jourová in the hope of combatting the disgraceful suffering under way for over 30 years, ALLSI said.

 The Chairman of ALLSI, David Petrie wrote to Ms Jourová regarding his longstanding campaign for the equal treatment for non-Italian lecturers under EU single market rules that prohibit discrimination based on nationality. Despite six rulings, dating back to 1989, from The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to remove the illegitimate discrimination based on nationality, the plight of foreign lecturers remains to be solved.

 Most recently a document from the Italian Senate showed the postponement of measures legislated on Nov. 20, 2017, in Article 11, 2 n. 167, these measures were intended to provide funding to universities to contribute towards equal and fair pay for the future. Of the six cases adjudicated in the in ECJEU, two were led by the European Commission.

 Italy changed its legislation in 1995 but the CJEU deemed these measures inadequate. Further legislation was thus introduced in 2004 which the CJEU deemed adequate to provide a framework for removing the discrimination.

 However, the Italian government failed to provide adequate funding for the law’s implementation and non-Italian lecturers continued to receive lower pay and inferior pension and social security rights compared to that of their Italian colleagues.

 In 2010 the legislation was then changed for the third time with the application of the so-called Gelmini law which reintroduced discrimination and quashed court cases that were pending. In 2011 the Commission accepted the lecturers’ complaint concerning Gelmini and opened an EU Pilot scheme; an informal dialogue between the Commission and member states which aims to allow the resolution of disputes related to potential non-compliance with EU law without the necessity of resorting to the Court of Justice. The November 2017 law, which requires funding and an adjunct contract for its implementation has now, the Senate document makes clear, been put on hold until at least October 2019.

 Given the relentless dithering between the Commission and the Italian State, years later the historic dispute still remains unsettled. The lecturers now seek a direct meeting in Brussels with Mrs Jourová the Czech-born, Commissioner responsible for justice in the EU.

 Professor Petrie said, “It’s nine years since we lodged a complaint against the so-called Gelmini law, this latest manoeuvre by the Italian state kicks the can even further down the road, the politicians in the Commission have to take personal responsibility and bring Italy to book, otherwise EU citizens are being sold a pig in a poke with regard to free movement of workers.”

 The European Parliament’s Petitions Committee chaired by Swedish deputy Cecilia Wikström MEP has referred the lecturers case to the Parliament’s Brexit Steering Committee.

 Mr David T C Davies, UK Member of Parliament for Monmouth, has pledged to ask Foreign Affairs Minister Sir Alan Duncan if the treatment of British lecturers in Italy has been raised with his counterpart, who is currently the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, following the resignation of Paolo Savona on Feb. 5.