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European Economic Interest Grouping
128 Copnor Road - Portsmouth - Hampshire PO3 5AN - United Kingdom

11th August, 2003

President Romano Prodi
Commission of the European Union
Brussels, Belgium

Dear President Prodi,

A truly tragic failure in leadership

I wrote to you on 14th May, 2003 on behalf of ECRE, (copy attached), outlining the current impact of the lack of effective action on the part of European institutions, including the European Commission, on the state of affairs of Roma children of school age in the accession countries of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.

In spite of the fact I raised a real issue which demonstrates a de facto ongoing repression of a segment of the European population, you have not bothered to reply to my communication. Rather than address the issue you shy away from it.

I am not sure what sort of example of leadership you feel this demonstrates to the European Roma, the European population in general and, in particular the youth of Europe. This continuing prejudicial prevarication represents a serious failure on your part and it compounds the failure of performance of the Commission services, on this issue, which I set out in my previous communication.

You may, as seems to be the habit of Commissioners and Commission staff, to appeal to the "law", "legalities" and "procedures" and thereby attempt to escape responsibility for this unacceptable state of affairs. But it is apparent that the Commission has known about this ongoing repression, as well as law-breaking, in the accession countries concerned. In spite of this, no attempt has been made to provide adequate feedback to the political levels within the Union to advocate that this issue be addressed urgently. Rather, the Commission has stood by and permitted the issues of "compliance" submerge and hide an ongoing abuse of children.

No appeal to "the law" or "procedures" can enable European public civil servants, such as yourself or staff in the Commission services, escape the fundamental duty and responsibility of calling attention this issue as soon as it became apparent and advocating a solution, even when this is not called for by the political level. How can you expect the European Commission to maintain its monopoly of legislative initiation when it demonstrates such insensitivity to what the important issues are and demonstrates a cold robot-like quality on such a practical and tragic issue by either ignoring it or attempting to hide behind "legalities"?

The failure to call attention to this issue is an overt demonstration of discrimination.

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.

Done at the City of Portsmouth, The County of Hampshire
11th August, 2003

in collective sadness but in agreement
European Committee on Romani Emancipation


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.

Basic Operations

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 :

  • community-based training and extension services
  • employment creating projects and programmes
  • a Romani development equity fund
  • a low cost European communications infrastructure


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
e-mail: info@eu-romani.org