European Economic Interest Grouping
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26th May, 2004
The European Ombudsman
This Complaint is against the European Parliament
Complaint - nature
Abuse of power, administrative irregularities
The European Parliamentary Petitions Committee (EPPC) failed to act under its mandate to investigate in an impartial fashion the contents of a petition concerning human rights abuse in now member states (then pre-accession) and the failure of the European Commission to ensure compliance with EU law and regulations.
Complaint – specific issue
Collusion in denial of public rights, discrimination, failure to act
We submitted a petition in February 2003 calling attention to state sponsored segregated educational denial in the Czech republic, Hungary and the Slovak republic. We sent this have just completed a field study in Central Europe and a detailed report providing evidence of the main points was issued to the EPPC.
The specific issue involves the plight of over 150,000 Roma children who are condemned at school entry age to racial segregation and who receive no useful education for the rest of their "school lives" in contravention to national and EU law.
The salient points of the petition were:
However, without any further advice being sent out as to the timing of such public meetings, and by limiting its "investigation" to a “reply” by the European Commission, to the petition, the EPPC informed us in a letter that “…there is no state-sponsored abuse” and stating no further consideration would be given to the petition. This statement flies in the face of the considerable published evidence on this issue as well as the detailed field survey undertaken and supplied by us to the EPPC.
The EPPC only relied upon the reply provided by the European Commission in spite of the fact that we had informed the EPPC that it was the Commission's inadequate reporting and failure to act which is responsible for the continuation of this abuse today. The EPPC simply accepted the contents of the reply from a party who has a direct interest in misrepresenting the facts.
There was a complete failure on the part of the EPPC to be more proactive in seeking out and checking the facts. This would have been justified given the significance of this case. This inaction resulted in the EPPC becoming part of the system of abuse. The EPPC and its failure to act was in itself a cause of a prejudicial prevarication which helped impose yet a prolongation of the time these children are expected to suffer this inexcusable abuse.
No independent enquiries
One of the most shocking revelations concerning the EPPC process in this case is that no one from the EPPC approached the leading NGOs involved with Roma issues and schooling in Central Europe to ask for feedback. Indeed, ECRE, a leading NGO in this field was never asked to qualify anything stated nor provided with any opportunity to cross examine the European Commission's reply.
The promised public hearing was never announced by the EPPC in an apparent attempt to avoid press coverage and/or cross examination of the Commission staff by ECRE. The whole EPPC process can be characterized by a complete obscurity with all details being hidden from the petitioner. At no point, other than sending the reply from the European Commission, did the EPPC state what feedback they had received and from whom. There was no provision of written statements nor was there any record of verbal and other communications made concerning the case. Indeed there was no information provided on who has contributed to the EPPC information input.
Possible conflicts of interest
There are common political party grouping interests between the majority of the EPPC and one of its members from Hungary, a Mr.István Balsai it is not clear whether or not this member was excluded from the proceedings or if he recused himself. The lack of transparency of the process did not make this clear.
Summary of issues
As a result there have been several shortcomings of the petitions process including:
The EPPC relied almost exclusively on the written reply of the European Commission and this alone undermines any pretence at objectivity on the part of the EPPC.
Although fully aware of the facts, the European Commission had 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.
Indeed the Commission colluded in upholding discrimination 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.
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.
Commission reply to the EPPC
In the Commission's reply to the petition the same strategy as used in their previous reporting was applied. That is the Commission repeats its consistent avoidance of reporting the full extent, the methods, levels of funding and the state-sponsored nature of this human rights abuse. Naturally to do so would expose the Commission's failure to act, but this is exactly the core issue of this complaint.
EPPC responsibilities not met
In a statement of the role of the EPPC published in March 2001 the EPPC stated that:
"Dealing with petitions often brings to light serious failures on the part of the Member States to comply with Community law, ranging from delays in the transposition of Community directives into national law to violations of the letter or the spirit of Community law. The Committee on Petitions requests the Commission to acquire all the necessary information and, where appropriate, to initiate proceedings for failure to act before the Court of Justice.”
“The fact that the Nice Treaty gives the European Parliament a similar right of recourse to the Court of Justice opens up new possibilities of a strengthened, direct role for the Committee on Petitions in initiating this procedure. It is all the more important, therefore, that Commission should inform Parliament of petitions that relate directly or indirectly to the violation procedure, inter alia in the Annual Report on control of the implementation of Community law.”
Failure to act by EPPC
In this case the failure to act is a triple issue.
First of all the EPPC has not investigated enough to show up the failure to act on the part of three member state governments and more fundamentally the ongoing and continuing failure to act by the European Commission. As a result, the EPPC itself is also guilty of failing to act.
Prejudicial prevarication, Unnecessary delay and Unfairness
Like the Commission, the EPPC has been tardy and slow in what is an urgent case of human rights abuse. 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 like a similar complaint leveled against the Commission, 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:
When we received the decision of the Petitions Committee in a letter dated 13th March 2004.
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 EPPC been contacted with no satisfactory response for over one year as can be seen in the documents supplied:
THE PAPER TRAIL AND DOCUMENTS ARE AS FOLLOWS:
These documents can be accessed on the urls indicated
Background Document - 2003 field report (also included with petition)
This can be accessed as html at:http://www.eu-romani.org/ec302ss.htm
DOCUMENT 1 Petition to EPPC 26 February 2003
This can be accessed as html at: http://www.eu-romani.org/compet.htm
DOCUMENT 2 Admin reply
This can be accessed as html at: http://www.eu-romani.org/comm009.htm
DOCUMENT 3 Complaint concerning delay
This can be accessed as html at: http://www.eu-romani.org/comm13.htm
DOCUMENT 4 Reply to complaint
This can be accessed as html at: http://www.eu-romani.org/comm14.htm
DOCUMENT 5 Response and comments to reply to complaint
This can be accessed as html at: http://www.eu-romani.org/comm15.htm
DOCUMENT 6 Request to know about admissibility of petition
This can be accessed as html at: http://www.eu-romani.org/comm19.htm
DOCUMENT 7 Receipt of letter from Petitions Committee of admissibility
This can be accessed as html at: http://www.eu-romani.org/comm20.htm
DOCUMENT 8 Acknowledgement of receipt of letter of admissibility
This can be accessed as html at: http://www.eu-romani.org/comm21.htm
DOCUMENT 9 Complaint of delay in process
This can be accessed as html at: http://www.eu-romani.org/comm22.htm
DOCUMENT 10 EPPC "official response"
This can be accessed as html at: http://www.eu-romani.org/comm23.htm
DOCUMENT 11 Notice containing reply by European Commission
This can be accessed as html at: http://www.eu-romani.org/comm24.htm
DOCUMENT 12 Reply requesting public hearing
This can be accessed as html at: http://www.eu-romani.org/comm25.htm
DOCUMENT 13 Response to European Commission reply
This can be accessed as html at: http://www.eu-romani.org/comm27.htm
Expectations for the outcome of this Complaint to the Ombudsman
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 the public record