Directorate General Enlargement
Dear Mr. McNeill,
With reference to your letter to President Romano Prodi of 14 May 2003 I would like to draw your attention to the Commission 2002 Regular Reports on the Czech Republic's, Hungary's and Slovakia's Progress towards Accession, which all refer in some detail to the problems of special schools, contrary to what you state in your letter.
In the case of the Czech Republic, the Regular Report e.g. refers to the UN Human Rights Committee recommendations,"deploring the segregation of Roma children in special schools". Its Conclusions clearly state that ".. more structural measures are needed in order to achieve significant results in remedying discrimination in access to education … " . The report about Hungary raises, among other points, "…the frequent transfers of Roma children out of the mainstream system into special educational facilities .. "; some " … 150 schools in Hungary where special Roma classes are maintained" Finally, the Slovak Republic is criticised by the Commission for " .. over-representation [of Roma] in schools for retarded children" and "widespread discrimination in education…"
Roma issues are dealt with in the context of the pre-accession strategy including the Accession Partnerships and the European Agreements. Some time ago my services have already provided clarifications to you on a number of points(your meeting with P. Mirel on 2 April, followed by his reply on 7 April to your letter to Commissioner Verheugen). It was also understood that, as a result of these clarifications, you intended to revise the report on "the impact of Special Schools on the Roma in central Europe" that you issued on 12 March 2003. However, no revision seems to have been made so far.
In view of the rather offensive and at times insulting language used in your letter to President Prodi, see no point in addressing your inaccurate description as well as your unsubstantiated accusations.
Mr H. McNeill
European Committee on Romani Emancipation
European Economic Interest Grouping
128 Copnor Road
Portsmouth Hampshire PO3 5AN