European Economic Interest Grouping
128 Copnor Road - Portsmouth - Hampshire PO3 5AN - United Kingdom
14th May, 2003
President Romano Prodi
Commission of the European Union
Dear President Prodi,
The Management Committee of the European Committee on Romani Emancipation is of the opinion that your Commission has failed to inform the European public, the European Parliament and the European Council of Ministers on the true extent to which certain candidate countries have not yet met pre-accession requirements.
Ongoing serious fraud, racial discrimination and failure to provide equal rights by institutions of some governments have been inadequately or even not reported.
We further believe that because the Parliament and the Council were not adequately informed that the recent votes on Accession, for some countries, were flawed.
In the Regular Reports of 2002 (reference: COM (2002) 700 final) for the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia the Commission states repetitively that negotiations on chapters have been provisionally closed. Unfortunately, in some crucial areas, this "closing of chapters" has inadequate explanation or justification. In each case the people directly prejudiced by the premature "closure" are the Roma community. In all reports, some "provisional closures" apply to areas where government authorities maintain a de facto breach of national laws, Copenhagen Criteria and Amsterdam Treaty and other components of European Law, in an overt and unacceptable way.
Failure in anti-discrimination laws
The most important single issue, in this context, is the continued existence of the Apartheid Special Schools in these countries.
Failure to provide equal opportunities in education
These "schools" negate equal access to basic education to normal Roma children.
Fraud & corruption
The Roma children are placed in these "schools" as a result of a fraudulent selection procedure managed by government-employed psychologists and educationalists. This fraud is part of a corrupt process to:
1. secure a high level of segregation of these children on ethnic grounds (racism)
2. to "justify" generous financial transfers paid by central governments, according to the number of children classified as being in need of "special" education.
The funds transferred as a result of this corruption are not used on these children.
Criminal neglect, mental torture and general tort
These children receive no useful education. They normally suffer shock on the first day at school when they are told they will not remain at the normal school but will be taken to the special school. They are kept for 12 years, segregated, as a head count to justify the annual money transfers from central budget. They are then thrown on the labour market as unskilled labourers, unable to enter vocation training because the enforced conditions do not provide any school qualifications.
Their evolution and nature
Special schools are a "throw over" from the Nazi period when Sinti, Roma and Jewish children were "educated" in separate institutions because they were considered to be "inferior" and should not be allowed to "pollute" children from mainstream society by sharing classes with them. The Special schools share with the Nazi concentration camps the characteristic perverted ingenuity of racists of making money out of the hapless inmates. But not through slave labour, just by leaving them to vegetate for the duration of their "school life".
What they have created
This system has affected all generations of Roma currently living in these countries. Some members of mainstream society, some sociologists, several politicians, racists and others all complain about the Roma. They are "uneducated", they are difficult to "employ", they have "no training" or how they "dont value education". This educational status cruely self-perpetuates discrimination against the Roma, who are innocent. Innocent, because they continue to suffer at the hands of a brutal, silent and largely hidden, highly profitable money-generating system whose technique is founded on the enforced denial of education. A system, which, in 2003, is enthusiastically supported by politicians, so called educators and psychologists who adhere to a system of cultural values which most Europeans imagined had died in a bunker with Adolf Hitler.
The scale of this exercise
The current financial turnover of this system is truly impressive. It is the main reason many politicians are reluctant to give it up. In 2003, the "low" estimate of the number of children in Special schools, or streams, in these three countries, is some 100,000 children. The annual money transfer against this head count, generated through fraudulent, unfair and corrupt "assessments", was of the order of Euro 175 million. During the last decade, adjusting for changes in numbers, the real total transfer to corrupt local authorities has been Euro 1.25 billion. In the same period the European Union spent only Euro 45 million on Roma initiatives.
Stated more clearly, the European Union provided funds to "help the Roma" equivalent to just 3.6% of the money being creamed off by the "assisted governments" at the "expense of the Roma".
This is the shocking reality President Prodi, and we have to inform you that this has made the European Union, and the European Commission, a laughing stock amongst those who benefit financially from this groteque system.
It is quite extraordinary that this massive, genuinely "big time" money-spinning system operates in three "low income" countries and yet the European Commission has hardly reported on it. Where specific reference is made to the Special schools, it is done in such a way that it is difficult for uninitiated readers to grasp the full level of depravity of the system and the scale of the damage it is inflicting.
The Czech Government has openly refused to satisfy requirements
In the case of the Czech Republic, the Report records the "unfortunate" fact that the Czech Parliament refused to close the Special schools in 2002. In other words the Czech government has openly declared that it has no intention to satisfy a range of pre-accession Human Rights requirements including the Copenhagen Criteria and will continue to enforce discrimination in the face of European laws concerning anti-discrimination and they will continue to remove equal opportunities to education in contradiction of both national and EU provisions.
The Czech Government has voted not to satisfy pre-accession conditions; it in fact has disqualified itself.
But, alarmingly, very much to the glee of these Parliamentarians, the European Commission meekly closed the relevant chapters. This has been a major tactical disaster because the Commission's irresponsible compliance has established, in the minds of politicians in all three countries, what has come to be known as, the "Czech precedent", albeit completely without legal foundation, on Special schools.
That such a precedent continues to exist depends entirely on the European Commission upholding it. The European Commission, under the Copenhagen Criteria and several other provisions has no authority to accept this stand by this Parliament let alone passively support a grisly precedent to be used by other governments.
Hungary is likely to follow this convenient Czech "precedent"
In the case of Hungary, the Ministry of Education is "preparing a new law" and Parliament will "discuss" a new law. The feedback we have received from people close to this activity is that "the law is not straight forward and somewhat difficult to understand". We have also been told that they will "go through the motions" but the common expectation is that the Parliament will simply rely on the "Czech precedent" and vote against it.
Before this has even had a chance to occur, the European Commission has already closed the relevant chapters.
Slovakia and the Commission remain quiet
In the case of Slovakia, where Special schools also exist, the European Commission reports do not even mention them. And, as in the other cases, the European Commission has closed the relevant chapters. If their Parliament were to vote, the "Czech precedent" is there of course.
Glowing but entirely misleading reporting
In spite of the grotesque official and governmental behaviour surrounding the treatment of these innocent children, all three Commission Progress Reports confirm variously that the countries:" continue to respect human rights and freedoms", that these governments are: "tackling corruption" and that " no major problems exist in the field of education" that the "Copenhagen Criteria have been met" and so it goes on. And these reports naturally record ratifications of various Human Rights and Minorities Rights legislation in a positive way.
But the tiny references to the Special schools simply avoid addressing the de facto scale of fraud and corruption in government agencies driven by a financial incentive which is resulting in horrendous child abuse. An abuse which denies educational rights and rips away the futures of small innocent children, future citizens of the European Union.
The Commission reports comment approvingly of allocations made by governments to the Roma cause. They cite figures of "government" contributions of a few million being allocated to some programmes. But we know that this is just theatre to humour the Commission. These totals do not exceed 4% of the volume of funding, generated by this corrupt and fraudulent Special school system which is actively ruining the lives of some 100,000 innocent children.
What is particularly chilling in these reports is the matter of fact way such an important human issue is handled, as if it were of no consequence. Of so little consequence that the Commission has arbitrarily closed the chapters with provisions to prevent such abuses.
The questions are why is the Commission doing this? Why has it provisionally closed chapters which obviously cannot be closed, and never can be closed under the Copenhagen and Amsterdam provisions, until these governments close the Special schools, terminate this human rights abuse and integrate the public school system?
Institutional racism? Toadying to governments? Administrative convenience?
The Commission, under your leadership, declared that it was aware of its responsibility to citizens, of a need to set an example as the joint authority for 15 - and soon more - Member States. You have stated that your work can be successful and meet with citizens' approval only if its policies are credible and honest. You claim a culture with clear ethical standards and of equal opportunities.
If this is so why has the Commission moved in such a manner as to condone this outrageous institutional racism by not calling sufficient attention to it? Why has the European Commission not demanded termination of such abuse as they are authorized to do? Why does the European Commission not set an example in place of this shameful toadying to these governments? Why does this reporting appear to be an attempt to show performance within the mandate of this Commission? Why does it seem that the measure of performance for this Commission is a demonstrable ability to slam shut chapters, and the futures of small children, when negotiations are obviously nowhere near complete?
Where is the problem?
If the crime perpetrated against these children was organized and run by some vicious hoods or a drug cartel, who actively defended their source of income and their "turf", then some reluctance on the part of the Commission might be understood. In this case the issue would handed over to specialists in paramilitary operations, law and order and the police and with the objective of imprisoning all of those found guilty.
But the forces which defend their source of income and their "turf" around the Special school system are the same forces which organize, run and fund the system. These are the governments, supported by their Parliaments, and their agencies (Ministries of Education, local governments, schools and county educational agencies).
It is quite evident that the Commission could and should have confronted this years ago to insist that this monstrosity be closed down. For some reason it has not done so. Why?
The Commission has failed in its collective duty to the public
If the Commission does not achieve this closure and full integration of these children into the normal public school system, and ensures that, in the few cases where specialist educational provisions are deemed necessary, that adequate didactic environments be provided, then it is clearly failing in its duty.
What has emerged from this process is the image of an institution in crisis. It has vacillated, has not shown adequate focus and above all, it has demonstrated excessive and unacceptable weakness in the face of racism, fraud and human rights abuse. It seems to have allowed itself to be seduced into acting out a grotesque parody of overt cynicism. This is amply demonstrated in the fact that, in spite of European Laws concerning equal opportunities in education, non discrimination and anticorruption measures, it openly and shamelessly fails to deliver such protection, in practice, to those Europeans who constitute the Roma community, our most important single European minority.
Please, only speak of ethics when they can be demonstrated
The Commission in this specific case is not meeting its own declared ethical and transparency standards. It is certainly not setting an example as the joint authority for 15 - and soon more - Member States through any ethical conduct.
Where is this Commission going?
In the discussions surrounding the new European Constitution you have expressed your desire for a stronger Commission with a monopoly on initiation. But surely the Commission needs to demonstration some capability to move beyond talks, meetings and chapters of reports. The Commission needs to demonstrate an ability to address European issues with effective action. Actions of lasting value, can only be achieved by exercising a responsible social sensitivity and a genuine equality of treatment of all within that magical common humanity which makes up the peoples of Europe. On this count, on the track record so far, we wonder if the Commission deserves even to be heard when it tries to justify a central role in the New Europe.
Over to you President Prodi
We know that you are not unreasonable. We know that you listen and that you are reflective. But we believe that you have been as badly informed as the members of the European Parliament and the Ministers on the European Council on this issue. For this reason we know that you will understand and reflect on the gravity of the situation. We know that you will take proactive actions to remedy this situation before it is too late.
We work directly with rural Roma communities. As pre-accession has progressed, being a practical people, the Roma have become increasingly desperate and disappointed at the "distance" of Europe (i.e. the Commission) and they are rapidly losing hope that Europe will mean anything positive for them. The lack of action on the Special schools has been one of the most significant disappointments for these people. This is because it has raised doubts on the true intent of "Europe" in failing to stop the ongoing shameless hijacking of their rights by unscrupulous governments.
As you know, Hungary had a totally uninspiring outcome to their Accession Referendum. For your information, the almost zero turn out in rural regions was due to the majority of rural Roma abstaining from this vote. Surely, even you can see, under the circumstances, that there was no reason at all why they should have gone to vote "Yes".
You could re-establish some goodwill by making a public announcement to acknowledge these oversights, perhaps to apologize, on behalf of the Commission, for the lack of practical action to date. But this should be followed rapidly by a proactive action setting non-negotiable criteria for these countries to close the Special schools and integrate the school systems.
We can provide any further information you may require.
In accordance with Audit Commission International Transparency Standards this letter is posted on our web site for public viewing.
In the light of the Commission's collective responsibility, this letter is being sent you all members of your Commission.
We reserve the right to send copies of this letter to any other individual, groups or organizations.
14th May, 2003
in collective sadness but in agreement
signed (Hector W. McNeill)
European Committee on Romani Emancipation
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE ON ROMANI EMANCIPATION
EUROPEAN ECONOMIC INTEREST GROUPING
registered in compliance with the terms of the European Union Council Regulation Number 2137
Registration number GE 168
ECRE provides a non-exclusive representation for the promotion of the improvement in the social and economic conditions of the Roma within the European Union and in countries preparing to join the European Union. Membership of ECRE includes concerned Roma and non-Roma European citizens, private organizations, non governmental organizations and, in particular, those working in the field of Roma (Gypsy) community economic development. ECRE sees economic emancipation as the principal first step towards self-reliance and effective social integration of the Roma.
ECRE undertakes analyses to identify and advocate practical social and economic development policies and actions to secure the effective social and economic inclusion of the Roma in the European Union and countries surrounding the European Union and, in particular, in pre-accession countries. ECRE provides a forum for reviewing social and economic development policy and the establishment and management of :
ECRE - European Committee on Romani Emancipation
128 Copnor Road, Portsmouth PO3 5AN, United Kingdom
Fax: +44 23 92 789 081
web site at: http://www.eu-romani.org