A September decree by the Italian government aims to recruit leading university professors through an unprecedented and highly questionable procedure. On behalf of Group 2003 (see www.gruppo2003.org), I urge the Italian government to withdraw these resolutions, which breach the academic freedom of the country's scientists and threaten the future of Italian science.

According to the ruling, the prime minister will appoint the chairs of the recruiting panels in different research areas. Each panel comprises only the chair (nominated by the government) and two other members, both chosen by the chair.

This government-controlled university appointment procedure is intended to replace the peer-review methods that are standard in academia worldwide. To our knowledge, it would be the first such system to operate in a democratic country.