Italy and EU: “failure to comply and failure to enforce – a grave threat to the EU’s legal structures”

The Daily Express, 18 July 2013,  reported on a  joint press conference held by UK Prime Minister, David Cameron and Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta “committed pro-European”, saying that,  “either Europe is able to answer fundamental questions about its future, or it can no longer be a sustainable project.”  Daily Express

We fully concur.

On the same day, 18 July 2013, European Voice, reported on its front page the lettori case as a  Fresh challenge to Italy and carried an editorial Italy’s disrespect for the rule of law hurts all of EU

One of the fundamental  principles of the EU is free movement of workers.

UK Minister for Europe, David  Lidington has described Italy’s treatment of lettori as both “illegal and immoral”.

We are grateful to Mr Lidington for this robust and important statement, which firmly points the finger at the main culprit.

Mr Cameron has found some common ground with Mr Letta on the future of Europe.

European Voice editorial makes 3 points about the lettori case:

•  Having exhausted due process,  “they found that Italy has failed to comply. It falls to the European Commission to ensure that Italy complies with ECJ rulings. Such failure to comply and failure to enforce constitute a grave threat to the EU’s legal structures.

•  The Italian authorities have resorted to extreme measures to thwart the plaintiffs. The Gelmini law of 2011 has been used not to refute or overturn the judgment of the ECJ and its effects, but to sidestep them entirely”. 

•  This case has been going on for “well nigh three decades

European Voice concludes: “What has been missing in Italy for so long – and latterly in the EU institutions – is a proper appreciation of the significance of the lettori case…. After so many years of contempt by successive governments, this case has become a test of whether or not the rule of law applies in the EU”.

Such a grave warning from European Voice, which is read by every politician in Brussels, Europhile and Eurosceptic, is unprecedented.

It has taken us three decades to fully expose the chasm between Treaty rights on paper and Treaty rights in practice. What we are looking at now is not merely a quest for equal and fair treatment – but a test on whether Europe can survive – that is the significance of the European Voice editorial.

It is incumbent on our leaders – at least those who continue to see Europe as a “sustainable project”  – to put this issue on the agenda of the Council of Ministers.

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22 Responses to Italy and EU: “failure to comply and failure to enforce – a grave threat to the EU’s legal structures”

  1. Lost in translation – “fund” and “bottom” – a post advertised at the University of Pisa
    Una cosa amena:

    Dalla pagina di una amica dell’università di Lecce su Fb:

    Bando dell’università di Pisa per assegni di ricerca, in italiano e in inglese. In quello in inglese il “fondo” che finanzierà gli assegni viene tradotto con “bottom”…….

    Esempio di perfetta conoscenza linguistica da parte del personale insegnante e non delle università italiane……

    Isabelle Oztasciyan Bernardini

    • Torquil Dick says:

      Well then I suppose that they must have translated “fondi disponibili” as “available bottoms”… !!! hmmm. 😀

      Clearly if the Italian authorities continue to hold the teaching of English, French, and other foregin languages in such contempt, as shown by their handling of the case of the Lettori, they will cut Italy off from the world. This does not look too good for Italy’s chances of economic recovery… Enrico Letta – are you listening?

      I would not be so surprised at the EU’s failure to enforce the judgements of its own court, which are looking like little more than window-dressing. After all, it has been many years now that the auditors have refused to sign off the EU’s accounts. Numbers of their own high-level employees (Bernard Connolly, Paul Van Buitenen, Marta Andreassen) who drew attention to irregularities, were simply dismissed for their pains.

      We learnt that one German journalist Hans Martin Tillack (correspondent for Stern) who reported irregularities, had his office ransacked by police in an attempt to discover his sources…

      The case of the lettori shows that, once again, the EU does not even do what it says on the tin.

  2. colin swift says:

    When is the European Commission going to apply monetary sanctions? What other proof do they need of the gravity of the situation we find ourselves in here in Italy? Do we have to go to Brussels and immolate ourselves? What is there left to do? What else do they want from us?

  3. Patricia says:

    Ho fatto in tempo ad andare in pensione e ancora non siamo arrivati ad una soluzione. L’Italia (e anche la Commissione) ha bisogno di trovarla presto, se l’Europa è un progetto serio e se è vero che a parità di lavoro dovrebbe corrispondere parità di compenso economico.

  4. Maryse Duclou says:

    De toute évidence, les menaces ne suffisent pas à débloquer la situation. Il serait temps de passer à la vitesse supérieure car la question des Lecteurs dans les universités italiennes dure depuis trop longtemps (plus de 30 ans). Claudine Lepage, Sénatrice des Français établis hors de France, a écrit récemment que “les négociations en cours laissent espérer une prise en compte conforme au droit de l’Union européenne”. Hélas, jusqu’alors les nombreuses négociations ont toutes misérablement échoué. Alors, peut-on encore y croire?

  5. Steven Guttenbrrg says:

    Isn’t 30 years of obfuscation and lying by Italian officials to deny equal treatment to university lettori enough?

  6. I Gavin says:

    It’s time for hardball from the Commission and the British government . Successive Italian governments have never been open to reasoned debate. They have a simple “take take take.” mentality. Take what you can from the EU without fulfilling their own treaty obligations. They’re laughing their socks off at the tired bureaucrats in Brussels who have been led a merry dance by the Italians for three decades.
    But then again have they?
    Is there something in the Commission’s relationship with Italy that we don’t and aren’t supposed to know about?
    After all, the relationship does seem rather too cosy. I’d love someone from the Commission to explain it to me!
    I say to the Commission. Prove that the EU still has some credibility. Start infringement proceedings and punish Italy’s discrimination.
    I would also like to thank the British government for refusing to bow to Italy’s treachery and total disregard for the rule of law. Perhaps their threat of an Erasmus /Bologna Process ban would help the cheats in Rome to focus more clearly on how to make amends for 30 years of shameful discrimination.

  7. Barocco says:

    The Italian government has shown that it will only move when faced with credible sanctions. We’ve waited long enough, let’s hope the British and other governments make some clear proposals soon.

  8. dansi1416 says:

    Threatening the Italian government with sanctions for its despicable behaviour has proved to be a total waste of time. Threatening them with anything is a total waste of time as they obviously have no respect whatsoever for EU treaties, rules, regulations, laws etc. They don’t respect their own laws so they are certainly never going to respect an EU ruling unless absolutely forced to. The British and other law-abiding EU countries have now really got to make their voices heard and insist on the immediate application of hefty fines and perhaps also some explanations as to why the Commission has failed to take action against a European state that feels free to flout every rule in the EU book.

  9. Robert Coates says:

    The Italian government has made it clear that it will not put stop discrimination against university language teachers. Either there is a stong reply from the international community or the EU will have to acknowledge that it has abandoned its principle of due justice for all its citizens.

  10. Patrick Ricci says:

    Etant français, je suis choqué par ” L’affaire des lecteurs”, je me pose cette question : comment un état comme l’Italie peut se permettre de jouer au “yo-yo” avec ses propres lois votées et entérinées par son propre parlement, et de plus en bafouant et oubliant au passage les lois européennes, jetant, lorsque ça l’arrange, un chaud et froid sur les procès des lecteurs en cours.
    En France lorsqu’une loi est votée par le Parlement et approuvée par le Sénat, celle-ci est automatiquement appliquée. Je comprends maintenant pourquoi les Italiens préfèrent s’exiler, pour leur travail, dans la communauté Européenne pour ne pas avoir au-dessus d’eux “L’épée de Damoclès”.

  11. A Rowan says:

    How on earth can the European Commission allow Italy to continue to get away with this! As I Gavin says above “It’s time for hardball from the Commission and the British government .”

  12. Robert Tims says:

    Its a mark of a Country`s standing as to how it treats its foreign workers, who I might say contribute a lot to the social fabric the country, as well as adding financially to the system. How the Italian Govt has been able to discriminate for so long, without any comeback just makes the EU look very weak in its standing. This form of discrimination is the worst as it hits honest people directly in their pockets. Surely the education system in a country with Italy`s heritage should be setting standards not trying to cheat them, especially when it comes to foreign workers.

  13. I Gavin says:

    One other point. Who is the EU commission answerable to if and when it doesn’t carry out what it’s supposed to do? Surely there must be some sort of independent regulatory body to keep it in check?

    • Lynda Allen says:

      I wholeheartedly agree with you. How can such blatant discrimination be allowed to happen in a fair society? It’s about time that the matter was brought to the attention of everyone in the EU, so there would be a large body of opinion against Italy’s treatment of the foreign lecturers, who certainly do exactly the same job as Italian lecturers and both morally and legally should be paid exactly the same.

  14. M Knapton says:

    I am rather confused how Italy have been able to get away with mass-level discrimination for such a long period without anyone stepping in. I am pro-EU, however, this really makes me consider my viewpoint. Had the shoe been on the other foot, there would be mass uproar – not just from the rest of Europe, but from within our ‘fair’ society in the UK.
    I really hope David Cameron presses the issue until resolution and is backed up by the other major European heads of state. The same leaders who have contributed financially to ensure Italy do not collapse during the financial-crisis, yet have not acted against Italy’s appalling treatment of foreign professionals. Only tough messures work with governments / ‘leaders’ like this – as Mussolini ultimately found to his cost…. Brussels, what action are you going to take?

  15. John Davies says:

    It’s the EU’s own motto “Equal citizens, equal rights, equal treatment”

  16. Dave Lovatt says:

    Why should Italy be allowed to pick and choose EU directives so they only have the ones which benefit them. Surely the idea of the EU is that it creates a universal labour market.

  17. Francis jevons says:

    August 5th 2013 at 22.30
    Francis Jevons says
    Isn’t it time that the Italian Government came into line with legitimate, democratic European thinking? Discrimination on this scale against lettori by the Italian Government is illegal and immoral. If Italy wants to remain within the EU then it must abide by European law and it’s sanctions. The Italian government is showing a total disrespect for the rule of law as outlined in the principles laid down by Brussels. Come on Mr Cameron get your act together and force some issues or apply sanctions!

  18. Sabine Flurschutz says:

    We are still expecting appreciation and we are still expecting that our professionalism will be recognized

  19. T Knapton says:

    Although I am disgusted by the treatment of the ‘lettori’ by the Italian government/authorities, I am not at all surprised as Italy is one of the most corrupt countries within the EU. I think even Mussolini would know how to treat people better . It seems Italy will never abide by European laws and will always run by its own rules. This is illegal and more should be done by our own government and the bureaucrats in Brussels .

  20. Sally Anne says:

    I am completely shocked that illegality and discrimination of this level has been happening in our ‘democratic’ European state for so long. There’s an opportunity here for the EU and David Cameron to do the right thing, acting against Italy’s complete disregard for long standing and contributing members of their own society and EU Law. Come on guys!

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