A petition by the 1,500 foreign language lecturers who have accused Italian universities of discriminating against them was formally accepted last week by Tom Richardson, Britain's ambassador in Rome. It invites Prime Minister Tony Blair to raise the matter at the Council of Ministers.
The petition was delivered to Mr Richardson by 20 lecturers' delegates representing all 15 European Union member states. Other documents addressed to Mr Blair included more than 100 pages of statements by the lecturers' lawyers and press articles concerning Italy's alleged systematic decade-long flouting of EU law.
Victoria Primhak, press officer of the Committee for the Defence of Foreign Lecturers and a lecturer at Naples's Oriental University, said: "Our trade union has set up a European Freedom of Movement Monitoring Unit, which will report every two months to the European heads of state and the presidency on what each member state is doing to ensure that its citizens are being protected against discrimination in other member states."
Italy's higher education ministry said that a European Court of Justice decision in November had done much to refute the lecturers' "exaggerated claims" and uphold the government's position.