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

22 October, 2003

Fabrizio Barbaso
Director General Enlargement
European Commission
Brussels, Belgium

Dear Mr. Barbaso,

I am writing to you in your capacity as acting Director General Enlargement and in response to a letter received from Eneko Landaburu which was dated 5th June 2003, and received by our secretariat on 18th October 2003 under a covering note from Ricardo Bremon.

Mr Landaburu implies we stated that the Commission has not mentioned educational problems or special schools.

What we did state was 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 added that:

"The most important single issue, in this context, is the continued existence of the Apartheid Special Schools in these countries."

and, concerning the content of your service's reports:

"Where 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 damage it is inflicting."

So his saying, in introducing citations of Report content, that "..contrary to what you state in your letter.." is a clear misrepresentation of the facts, or he has purposefully taken a single statement out of context of the overall sense of the letter.

Our complaint is that your service reporting has been done in such an ineffective manner that has failed to address the fact that these schools exist as a direct result of a proactive and generous financial incentive from central government; which they intend to continue. This financial incentive is used as an excuse to effect fraudulent classifications of children's capabilities and their physical separation to a status of educational denial; a process they intend to continue. This conversion of the old special schools started in 1989 and achieved a 400% rise in number of children affected by educational denial by 2003. About 200% of this rise occurred during your "negotiation" periods with these governments. So rather than result in an improvement in the situation of the Roma, involvement of the Commission has made no effective difference. The absolute situation got worse. This is in a period when the UN Millennium initiative aims to half educational denial for poor children by 2012!

This is what the Commission has completely failed to address in all Reports since 1999 and indeed, continues to fail to address; the reports are misleading and inaccurate.

For example, in the citations made from the 2002 Reports, Mr. Landaburu states that there are 150 schools (in Hungary) where special Roma classes are maintained; the Commission has never supplied any source nor has it ever checked the veracity of this figure. Mr. Barbaso, there are around 450 special schools and over 250 segregated schools which have some sort of curriculum. In other words, there are over 700 Apartheid institutions affecting Roma children in Hungary alone. The Commission figure cite is a gross under estimate, by a factor of almost 5; just completely wrong.

Between 1999 and 2002 your Progress reports for the three countries constituted roughly 1,800 pages and the special schools, arguably the single most outstanding human issue requiring the most urgent attention, were mentioned, albeit often indirectly, on about 30 of them. That is hardly a basis for asserting, as he does, of these referring ".. in some detail to the problems of special schools."

Citing a UN Human Rights Committee recommendation hardly constitutes a Commission position.

I wrote personally to Mr. Verheugen in November 1999 advising him about the poor quality of the Commission Reports on this issue. The content of your citations shows things have not changed. The Commission's reporting has been lamentable and, in the context of reporting to the assemblies of the European Parliament and European Council, before accession voting, completely deficient, indeed irresponsible.

In December 1999, Gunter Verheugen, (Commissioner for Enlargement) wrote to me and assured me:

" ... the Commission intends to provide more targeted support to the Roma communities in the framework of its pre-accession instruments, the 'Phare programme in particular. Indeed, the Commission expects to co-finance integrated regional programmes from 2000 onwards in candidate countries' selected regions. These funds, like the structural funds in the EU member countries, would support projects aiming at strengthening economic integration and social cohesion."

Between that date and now, almost 4 years, the number of children intellectually brutalized by this government-managed system increased by over 200%, the Roma we are in contact with are not aware of any practical and sustainable initiatives anywhere.

So you will understand, I hope, that when Mr Landaburu states that:

"Roma issues are dealt with in the context of the pre-accession strategy including the Accession Partnerships and the Europe Agreements".

this will not take this seriously.

What is needed is the European Union requesting the termination of ongoing proactive central government financial incentives, fraudulent classifications by government employees, and segregation and cruel educational denial of innocent children by educational authorities.

Lastly, Mr. Landaburu said that Mr. Mirel, after a meeting I had with him, (sent) a reply on 7 April to my letter to Commissioner Verheugen. This is a misrepresentation of the facts. At the beginning of the meeting, Mr. Mirel said I would receive a letter directly from Mr. Verheugen in response to mine. During the meeting referred to, Mr. Mirel and his colleague Mr. Canciani raised four basic issue. Although I understood the points I sensed there were some outstanding issues of interpretation. I felt it important to understand exactly the sense of their comments, so I specifically invited Mr. Mirel, at the end of the meeting, to send comments, including any from Mr. Canciani, who by that time had left the room. Indeed, Mr. Mirel, in his email of 7 April, 2003, prefaces his email to me, before setting out his comments, with:

"As you have kindly invited me to make suggestions before ECRE revise the report, I am pleased to send you therefore my comments and suggestions".

Mr. Mirel's letter was in no way a reply to my letter to Commissioner Verheugen nor was it intended to be. In the meantime, Mr. Verheugen has failed to send a response.

Mr. Barbaso, turning a blind eye, and failing to report adequately on gross government fraud, proactive central government incentive funding of a process which forces innocent normal Roma children into segregated institutions and streams of educational denial throughout their "school life" is an affront to humanity. It is an overt refusal by these governments to observe European, and indeed, national laws. These governments have spent roughly 20 times more on racist invcentives than the European Commission has spent on so-called Roma "initiatives". Surely you realise that as long as you avoid taking action on the first issue, in such an environment, that your EU Roma programmes are just a pathetic theatre.

This situation, which has developed rapidly since 1989, is a serious political issue. But political assemblies can only take responsible decisions if the administrations serving them do a proficient, transparent and ethical job in informing them openly and accurately of the true facts. True in the sense of a quantification of the dimensions of the problem, why it grew by 400% in the last 14 years and suggesting an immediate practical solution designed to force these governments to have their officials and staff comply with European law. This you and your services have failed to do. Indeed, as we stated in our first letter to President Prodi the failure to call adequate attention to this issue is an overt demonstration of discrimination.

If, like Mr. Landaburu, you feel such an expression of reality constitutes insulting language, is inaccurate or is unsubstantiated, then please be more specific as to why what is stated is not true. Mr. Landaburu, seems to be amongst those at the Commission who want to avoid a serious and constructive dialogue on this matter. This wastes time in a very public manner. This is damaging to the image of the Commission and, more importantly, represents a continuation of extreme prejudicial for the children concerned. We hope your reaction might be more geared to positive action.

In accordance with Audit Commission International Transparency Standards this letter is posted on our web site for public viewing.

Since reference has been made to correspondence between P. Mirel and ECRE and which we had considered to be "working documents", we will now post this on our website for public viewing.

In the light of the Commission's collective responsibility, this letter is being sent to all members of your Commission and members of the European Parliament.

It is also being copied to Mr. Pierre Mirel because his name is mentioned in this correspondence.

We reserve the right to send copies of this letter to any other individual, groups or organizations including the media.

Done at the City of Portsmouth
The County of Hampshire
22 October, 2003
Hector McNeill
for and on behalf of
European Committee on Romani Emancipation


registered in compliance with the terms of the European Union Council Regulation Number 2137
Registration number GE 168


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