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European Economic Interest Grouping

Founded under Articles of Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2137/85
Regulation 9 of the European Economic Interest Grouping Regulations 1989
Registered in the United Kingdom Number GE 168


web site: http://www.eu-romani.org
email: info@eu-romani.org

Nino Gemelli
Chairman - Committee on Petitions European Parliament
Schuman Building - L-2929 Luxembourg

FAX: 0032 2 284 9732

15th March 2004
Petition 239/2003

Dear Mr. Gemelli,

We are in receipt of a letter dated 11th March 2004 (ref: 201309) signed on your behalf by Mr. Roy Perry (Vice Chair of the Petitions Committee) and to which is attached a copy of a Notice to Members dated 22 January 2004 which includes a transcript of a reply from the European Commission and which was received by your Committee on 13 November 2003.

Mr. Perry states that with this letter he is providing us with the official response of your Committee on this matter implying that this is a final decision. He also ends the letter by stating, "The Committee on petitions decided to close its consideration of your petition".

Unfortunately this reverses written undertakings we have received from your Committee concerning the fact that, before any final decisions are taken by your Committee, the petition would be reviewed in a public meeting. These undertakings were made in writing both in the initial response from your Committee on 13 March 2003 where it was stated that:

" If your petition is declared admissible the aforementioned committee (Petitions) will examine it at a meeting open to the public in accordance with the provisions of the European Parliament's internal Rules of Procedure".

As well as in a letter, signed by you, on 18th November 2003 in which you stated that:

" I would like to inform you that the Committee on Petitions considered your petition at a recent meeting and declared the issue which you raise therein admissible in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament insofar as the subject matter falls within the sphere of activities of the European Union.

The committee began its evaluation of your petition and decided to ask the European Commission to state its views on the various aspects of the problem. The committee will continue its examination of your petition as soon as it is in receipt of the necessary information. This petition will be examined in public.

I will keep you informed of any further action on your petition."

In both cases we received a confirmation that we would be informed of further action and, in particular, this would indicate our being invited to a public meeting organized by the Committee on Petitions and during which this issue would be reviewed and we would have the opportunity to clarify any areas of doubt.

Given the degree of failure to address adequately, in the above-referred letter and the Notice to Members, the main and specific issues raised in the Petition, and considering the significant redirection of emphasis and representations contained therein there is a de facto lack of transparency and a real risk of misinterpretation. This is an unacceptable state of affairs but even more so for this concerns an extremely serious Human Rights issue affecting a considerable number of children. We therefore respectfully request that you act in accordance with the undertakings of your Committee and organize the promised public review where key cross examinations can help clarify facts and lead to a more speedy and yet better informed review upon which your Committee would be able to base any decisions.

In the meantime we also ask that you withdraw the premature and hastily drawn up "official response" referred to above.

For and on behalf of
ECRE - European Committee on Romani Emancipation
Hector McNeill
Member of Management Committee
European Committee on Romani Emancipation