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European Economic Interest Grouping
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Telephone & fax: +44 23 92 789 081 - email: info@eu-romani.org - website: http://www.eu-romani.org

26th May, 2004

The European Ombudsman


This Complaint is against the Commission of the European Union

Complaint - nature

Abuse of power, administrative irregularities

The European Commission has failed to act under its mandate as guardian of the treaties to move to ensure compliance with EU law and regulations in current member states of the European Union.

The current illegal state of affairs is a direct result of the Commission also failing to act before the accession of such countries.

Complaint – specific issue

Collusion in denial of public rights, Discrimination

The specific issue involves over 150,000 Roma children in the European Union member states of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, who at the age of school entry are condemned to racial segregation and who receive no useful basic education for the whole of their "school lives", in contravention to national and EU law.

We furnish details in the attached documents.

This abuse is sustained today by EU member state government educational ministries, central government financial authorities, local authorities and local education authorities in these member states.

Although fully aware of the facts, the European Commission has not called public attention to these facts, nor has it taken legal action against such states for their failure to act to implement practical actions to stop this abuse. Indeed, the European Commission has knowingly permitted this state of affairs to continue without mention. During the pre-accession period they also closed the relevant “chapters” which would have contained the provisions to protect these children.

Collusion in upholding discrimination is a charge levelled again the Commission. This has continued over a long period. In November 1999, the Directorate of ADF wrote to Commissioner Gunter Verhuegen informing him of this situation and requesting that he and the Commission act to curtail and stop this human rights abuse before the time of accession of these countries. He patently failed to act in an appropriate manner either on a personal basis or in ensuring his staff at Enlargement act. His follow up has been off hand and irresponsible showing an abandonment of duty of care to the public under his area of responsibility.

As a result this human rights abuse is now a de facto state of affairs in member states of the European Union following the accession of these states on 1st May 2004.

Disinformation, Fraud, Lack or refusal of information

In reviewing the past reporting by the European Commission in the relevant sections of the Commission Progress reports, covering Roma affairs, the record shows a clear level of intentional misrepresentation, geared towards obscuring the issue. Specifically, the European Commission has consistently avoided reporting the full extent, the methods, levels of funding and the state-sponsored nature of this human rights abuse. This they were required to report as well as to act under their mandates from several European Councils. Indeed, the Madrid Conditions for accession specifically demanded that governmental administrative structures be adjusted to uphold European Law before accession. And yet this abuse is government funded and run entirely within government administrative structures being managed b civil servants and government employees and being housed in government installations.

Unacceptable delays and evasion

We refer to a reply to a letter to President Prodi written by Mr. Eneko Lanadaburu. Mr. Landaburu is the principle civil servant implicated in this scandal being the Director General of Enlargement at the time. He does not address any issue raised by the letter to Mr. Prodi; indeed he refuses to do so. On the other hand he studiously avoids commenting of the extent, methods, levels of funding and the state-sponsored nature of this human rights abuse. Mr. Lanadaburu naturally has an interest, having bee the director responsible for Enlargement and therefore implicated in this cover up, in continuing to misrepresent the facts.

In a further act to distance himself from this maladministration it is evident that he arranged for his letter to be sent to us several months after he had left Enlargement. His letter was dated 5th June 2003 and we received it from Ricardo Bremon, who was not related to this matter under a covering note, dated, 8th October 2003, on 18th October 2003 This is some 4 months after it was apparently written.

Reminder to the Commission

In response to Mr. Landaburu's letter we did reply on 22nd October 2003, to the then acting Director for Enlargement reiterating the fact that the Commission was failing to report the full facts.and we repeated the shortcomings of the Commission actions and reporting. We expressed the hope that his reraction might be more geared to positive action; we have received no reply.

Current failure to act with respect to member states

Irrespective of the pre-accession responsibilities of the Commission its current responsibilities as guardian of the treaties, in dealing with what are now full members of the Union, including calling attention to such abuse and demanding corrective action for this failure to act by these governments. This the Commission has also failed to do.

This behaviour of the Commission is an affront to the European public and of course to the children involved.

Corruption of information

In practical administrative terms the European Parliament and the European Council remained misinformed, and indeed, remain misinformed, as to the true scale and character of this ongoing human rights abuse levelled again these children. The votes on accession, taken without such information were therefore flawed.

If the votes are not flawed do we then have to assume the Members of the European Parliament wilfully agree with such human rights abuse? And, have the Council of Ministers likewise fully and willingly endorsed the human rights abuse involved?

Now with the accession of these countries the continued lack of information afforded to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers by the European Commission's continued failure to report and or act is an unacceptable state of affairs.

Prejudicial prevarication, Unnecessary delay and Unfairness

Needless to say this is a case which has involved an unnecessary delay and unfairness by heaping an immeasurable prejudicial prevarication and harm on increasing numbers of children as time has passed. Characterization of maladministration involved

Unfortunately this is a complex and somewhat repulsive situation of cover-up and as a result, this Complaint combines all of the following specific components of maladministration:
  • Abuse of power
  • Administrative irregularities
  • Collusion in denial of public rights
  • Discrimination
  • Disinformation
  • Fraud
  • Lack or refusal of information
  • Prejudicial prevarication
  • Unecesssary delay
  • Unfairness
When reason for Complaint became evident

This complaint addresses the new situation, which emerged on 1st May 2004 with the accession of these countries to full membership status. That is that we are now dealing with abuse in member states who have failed to act as opposed to abuse in pre-accession countries. The responsibility for the assessment of such abuse is that of the European Commission in its performance as guardian of the treaties and, as a result, is an area where we feel the Ombudsman can act on the issue of the Commission's continued failure to act.

Note 1: We refer to a former complaint issued on 28th May 2003 which concerned largely the pre-accession activities of the European Commssiion. At that time ECRE had just undertaken a field survey in rural regions in Central Europe which discovered the abuse had rapidly increased and had not diminished. The implication of the Commission became evident as a result of detecting the disinformation and misrepresentation in the Commission Progress reports at that time following the inexplicable European Parliamentary and European Council votes on Accession. And the subsequent votes in favour of accession by European Council and European Parliament in spite of the fact that at least 3 accession countries maintain horrendous human rights abuse of children. It appears to be evident that because of lack of Commission transparency these votes were flawed.

At that time the Ombudsman could not act on failures to act on the part of the Commission under pre-accession conditions was a responsibility of the European Court.

Note 2: We did submit a petition on this matter to the European Parliamentary Committee on Petitions but they have also failed to investigate this issue adequately and this matter is the subject of an associated but separate complaint to the Ombudsman.

Ending note

The recent administrative reforms at the Commission place emphasis on the need to demonstrate performance related to specific competencies, to maintain ethical conduct and, above all, to remain aware that bad or harmful discretionary decisions remain an individual responsibility, irrespective of any assumptions concerning procedural due process.

We reserve the right to send copies of this document to any other party. In accord with ACITS provisions a copy of this Complaint will be posted on our website for public viewing and a press release will be made after this email version has been sent. We will send you a hard copy of this Complaint. The relevant parts of the Commission and services have been contacted but no satisfactory response and this can be seen in paper trail since 1999 as evident in the documents supplied:


Please note we have excluded the cycle of documents associated with the Parliamentary Petitions Committee because they are included in an associated complaint.

Background Document - 2003 field report
This can be accessed as html at:http://www.eu-romani.org/ec302ss.htm
DOCUMENT 1 Letter from Hector McNeill to Gunter Verheugen (November 1999)
This can be accessed as html at: http://www.eu-romani.org/comm1.htm
DOCUMENT 2 Reply to McNeill (December 1999)
This can be accessed as html at: http://www.eu-romani.org/comm2.htm
DOCUMENT 3 Letter to Verheugen (February 2000) no reply received
This can be accessed as html at: http://www.eu-romani.org/comm3.htm
DOCUMENT 4 Field report submitted to the Enlargement Department on publication (28th February 2003)
This can be accessed as html at:http://www.eu-romani.org/ec302ss.htm
DOCUMENT 5 Letter to President Romano Prodi (15th May 2003) asking for explanations on the lack of action by the Commission, questioning the actions of Enlargement services and the validity of the votes in Parliament and Council or Accession. Requesting action.
This can be accessed as html at:http://www.eu-romani.org/comm05.htm
DOCUMENT 5 - Reminder to Mr. Prodi (11th August 2003)
This can be accessed as html at:http://www.eu-romani.org/comm11.htm
DOCUMENT 6 - Covering letter from Mr. Bremon (dated 8th October 2003) supplying very late reply on behalf of Prodi written by Eneko Landaburu
This can be accessed as html at:http://www.eu-romani.org/comm16.htm
DOCUMENT 7 - Letter from Mr. Eneko Landaburu (dated 5 June 2003 received 18 October 2003)
This can be accessed as html at:http://www.eu-romani.org/comm17.htm
DOCUMENT 8 - Letter to current acting Director for Enlargement, Fabrizio Barbaso (22nd October 2003)
This can be accessed as html at:http://www.eu-romani.org/comm18.htm

Expectations for the outcome of this Complaint to the Ombudsman

  • A full and independent review of the circumstances facing these children in the member states of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia and specification of the non-negotiable acts to be taken to terminate this abuse, which currently remains in contravention of EU law.
  • Inform and then reassess European Parliamentary position.
  • Inform and then reassess Council position.
  • Assessment of performance of Commissioner Verhuegen and the relevant Commission Enlargement services.
This Complaint does not concern work relationships with the Community institutions and bodies.

This Complaint has not been submitted to a court nor is it pending before a court.

This Complaint should be dealt with publicly.

This Complaint should not be passed on to another authority (European or national) if the European Ombudsman decides that he is not entitled to deal with it

For and on behalf of the
European Committee on Romani Emancipation
(signed Hector McNeill)
Member of ECRE Management Committee

ECRE website communications section for public record