Pioneers of the new Europe. Bring back the Romans!

The Times Higher Education published, 16-22 June,  ‘Pioneers of the new Europe’ fight the Italian closed shop , while UK Europe Minister, David Lidington heads for Rome this week – See Mark Lazarowicz’s question in the House of Commons:

Mark Lazarowicz MP

HANSARD 14 June 2011

T3. [59298] Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab/Co-op): The Secretary of State will be aware of the case of my constituent, David Petrie, who is one of a number of British citizens who, for more than 20 years, have been trying to secure equal pay under their European rights in Italy. I understand that the Minister for Europe will meet his Italian counterparts in a few days’ time. Will he take up this case again and try to bring the sorry saga to a conclusion?

The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington): Yes, I intend to visit Italy in the next week and this is certainly one of the items that will be on the agenda for discussion.

I am very grateful to Mr Lazarowicz who issued the following statement:

‘It is an outrage that in spite of numerous court rulings, the Italian authorities have not yet complied. I know that both the current and previous UK governments have been pursuing the issue with the Italian government, and they must continue to do so until there is a satisfactory outcome’.

At our meeting in London on 28 October 2010, Mr Lidington assured us the government was taking our case very seriously.  But since then, the Italian government  has gone much further down the road than simply flouting the treaties. The “Gelmini” reform legislates against ECJ judgments  (it re-interprets their rulings) and against the European Treaties (it extinguishes the basic right of a specific group of foreign workers to have their complaint adjudicated in a court of law).

This is certainly not a matter merely affecting Italy – it calls into question the whole European Project.

Fearful that lettori may still yet enforce their rights, as some have, even after over 25 years in courts (shouldn’t they have given up or died?) – the Gelmini reform has simply taken their treaty rights away.

The Romans gave full citizens rights to anyone who served the empire for ten years. Can our EU leaders force Italy to comply – or should we be calling for them to bring back the Romans?

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This entry was posted in David Lidington MP, Discrimination based on nationality in Italian universities, EU, Europe, European Commission, European Parliament, European Treaty, Free movement of workers in EU, Gelmini reform, Italian universities, Workers' rights and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Pioneers of the new Europe. Bring back the Romans!

  1. Susan Perzolli says:

    It’s perfectly true – the lettori issue does indeed call into question the whole European Project. Basically, it’s an issue of parity of treatment and freedom of movement for workers within the EU. What’s surprising is that it’s taken over 20 years for this issue to be discussed at ministerial level. Even more surprising that only the British government (current and previous), alone of all the member states, has ever intervened to uphold this central tenet of the EU. In all this time, we’ve seen our rights constantly bypassed by ad-hoc measures taken by successive Italian governments, which appear to comply with European law against discrimination, but in actual fact evade its implementation.

    The recent Gelmini Law – a law which actually manages to negate the law – is simply the last in a long line. For myself and 16 colleagues at Bergamo University, this law is having an utterly devastating effect on our lives. Unbelievably, the university has used it to slash our salaries by as much as 60%; salaries that three years ago had been brought in line with those of other Italian university teachers as the result of a court ruling.

    The best of luck to Mr Lidington, and heartfelt thanks to him and to the British government for taking up and pursuing our cause. And, it goes without saying, immeasurable thanks to David Petrie for never having let it go and for continuing to take it further.

    Susan Perzolli
    University of Bergamo

  2. Christopher Burchett says:

    The GB lecturers have been imploring successive UK governments to help them defend their right to equal treatment in the Italian workplace since 1989. Now the Italians have stripped them even of that most basic of human rights – a fair trial. This is an open and shut case, or at least would prove be so, if leading members of the coallition broke with tradition and demonstrated that they had the guts to stand up for their fellow countrymen.

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