MITGLIEID DER EUROPAISCHEN KOMMISSION
RUE DE LA LOI 200 - B-1049 BRUXELLES
Brussels, 22 December 1999 526Dear Mr McNeill,
Thank you for your letter of 30 November 1999 in which you express concern about discrimination against the Roma communities in several candidate countries.
The Commission attaches great importance to the protection of minorities, which is one of the political criteria that candidate countries must fulfil in the pre-accession process. The Commission has therefore made an unequivocal assessment of the Roma situation in the Composite Paper it adopted together with the annual Regular Reports on 13 October 1999, a copy of which is attached for your information.
This assessment was made on the basis of a number of sources, including a meeting with Roma Communities' representatives that the Commission services -organised in July 1999 in Brussels. It led the Commission and the Council to include in the Accession Partnerships for Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia an explicit short-term political priority calling for concrete measures "aimed at fighting discrimination, fostering employment opportunities and increasing access to education".
On that basis, 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.
I am pleased to enclose a report on EU support provided so far in the candidate countries in that respect.
(signed Gunter Verheugen)
Mr Hector McNeill
Agricultural Development Foundation
72 New Bond Street
London WIY 9DD
Rue de la Loi, 200, B-1049 Bruxelles/Wetstraat 200, B-1049 Brussel - Belgium - Office:
Telephone: direct line (+32-2)295.6172 switchboard 299.11.11. Fax: 2967432
Telex: COMEU B 21877. Telegraphic address: COMEUR Brussels.