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Brussels, 16 February 2011

Commission requests Italy to end discrimination against workers with professional experience and qualifications from another Member State

The European Commission has requested Italy to take professional experience and seniority acquired by doctors in another Member State into account when determining their rank or working conditions (like salary, grade career development) in the Italian public sector. It has also requested Italy, separately, to put an end to its discriminatory rule whereby teachers with qualifications obtained in Italy are awarded additional points when determining their ranking in reserve lists for teaching posts. The Commission considers that the current rules are discriminatory since they both affect primarily workers of other Member States. Both of the Commission's requests take the form of a 'reasoned opinion' under EU infringement procedures. Italy has two months to bring its legislation in both areas into line with EU law. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Italy to the EU's Court of Justice.

According to EU law, free movement of workers does not apply to employment in the public sector so access to the public service can be restricted to nationals of the host Member State. However, this derogation has been interpreted in a very restrictive way by the Court of Justice of the EU and only posts that involve public authority and the responsibility for safeguarding the general interest of the State can be restricted to their own nationals. The restriction therefore neither applies to doctors working in the public health institutions, nor teachers working in the public education institutions.

In line with the case law of the Court, previous periods of comparable employment acquired in the health sector of other Member States must be taken into account by the Italian health services when determining professional benefits (e.g. salary, career development), just as experience acquired in the Italian system is considered. This specific Italian condition that requires continuity in work experience in establishing a doctor's rank constitutes an indirect discrimination of migrant workers in determining their working conditions for posts in the Italian public sector. Migrant workers usually put an end to employment in the Member State of origin to move to another Member State with their move typically resulting in a career break .

In the case of teachers, Italian legislation provides that, for the purposes of ranking in the reserve lists of teachers and further to the points awarded to all professional qualifications (including those obtained in other Member States), additional points will be awarded to specific qualifications only obtained in Italy. This amounts to indirect discrimination on grounds of nationality and is contrary to EU rules on free movement of workers as it has adverse consequences on access to employment for candidates who have exercised their right to free movement to obtain their professional qualifications in other Member States. Comparable qualifications obtained in other Member States and recognised by Italian authorities should be given the same treatment as those obtained in Italy and receive the same amount of points.

Further information

Free movement of workers :

Employment in the public sector :

For more information on the infringement procedures:

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For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/11/86

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