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European Economic Interest Grouping
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Telephone & fax: +44 23 92 789 081 - email: info@eu-romani.org - website: http://www.eu-romani.org

Reference 019656
Complaint: 955/2003/GG

2nd July, 2003

The European Ombudsman

Dear Mr. Diamandouros,

Thank you for your letter of 26th June 2003.

You state that

"After a careful examination of your complaint it appears that you have already addressed a petition to the European Parliament on the same subject and that the Committee of Peittions is dealing with the matter. The European Parliament will no doubt give the issues raised by this petition all the attention they merit. I hope you will understand that in these circumstances, it would make no sense for me to consider opening an inquiry of my own."

Our complaint to you does not concern the same subject as the Petition to the European Parliament. Our Complaint to you of 28th May 2003, is concerned specifically and exclusively with the behaviour of the European Commission. This issue is not even mentioned in our Petition to the European Parliament of 28th February 2003. The reason for this is that we only became aware of the Commission's behaviour some 3 weeks before we sent the complaint to you dated 28th May, 2003 (3 months after the Petition was sent) and under the required section "When reason for Complaint became evident"

"...... The implication of the Commission became evident as a result of a review of Progress reports some 3 weeks ago following the inexplicable European Parliamentary and European Council votes on Accession."
"And the subsequent votes in favour of accession by European Council and European Parliament in spite of the fact that at least 3 accession countries maintain horrendous human rights abuse of children. It appears to be evident that because of lack of Commission transparency these votes were flawed."

In any case, as far as we (ECRE Management Committee) could ascertain it was more appropriate to complain to the Ombudsman on the Commission behaviour than the Parliament. This is why we did this.

In absolute terms our Petition to the European Parliament contains no references to, nor requests for, any assessment of the behaviour of the Commission. It only states that:

"We call upon the European Parliament to take the appropriate actions on this matter and place our trust the ability of Parliament to do this. On our part we would suggest that there is an urgent need to place a temporary embargo on any further funding, including freezing that already committed, to the establishments involved. This should continue in force until such a time as the Special school system is done away with and the children within this system be provided with sustainable educational provisions which are suitable for future citizens of the European Union."

"There is no real basis for rejection of such beneficial change by the institutions concerned on the basis of available resources because as is now known they have more than adequate and accounted funding available if only this were not diverted into illicit use."

In blunt terms we are talking here about a proactive political role for the European Parliament in proposing the imposition of sanctions on EU funding. This is hardly the sort of thing we would ask of an Ombudsman.

You refer to Article 195 which essentially states the Ombudsman has the discretion to decide whether or not to investigate. I would remind you that such discretionary decisions should be based upon the recognition of adequate cause for initiating recognised procedures of investigation and reporting, on a specific institution, os a result of the presentation of initial plausible evidence by a complainant. Now that we have clarified this matter I would go so far as to state that it would be an abuse of such discretion to refuse to carry out an investigation by insisting that another forum is investigating " the same subject" when this is patently not the case.

From your excellent resume of our Complaint you have clearly identified and acknowledged that our complaint is exclusively about the behaviour of the Commission, indeed you set out all of our contentions all under the heading: "According to you, the Commssion has"

And finally, we are encouraged that you recognise the importance of investigating the behaviour of the Commission in your statement:

"Your complaint raises serious issues, and it is my view that these issues should be examined in depth."

I would therefore respectively suggest, in the light of the above, that there are indeed grounds for you to initiate inquiries in support of our complaint.

For and on behalf of the
European Committee on Romani Emancipation
(signed Hector McNeill)
Member of ECRE Management Committee

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