The biggest problems in the Roma Social Inclusion process are related to the inability, incompetence and lack of political will at the level of the national governments. There are ways to address these problems but due to strong anti-Gypsyism and corruption addressing these problems is a much more complicated process than solving the existing problems within the European Commission (EC). The EC needs to pressure states into reform but has no legitimacy to do so if it doesn’t first change itself .
Main Problem : The nexus of all problems related to the European Commission and Roma social inclusion is the fact that there is no oversight over the activity of the European Commission in regard to Roma social inclusion. The existing management of Roma issues within the Commission is laughable as neither Commissioner Reding or the Head of the Roma Unit can prove any academic or hands on practical experience on Roma. Reding cabinet was/is completely void of any Roma expertise.
Solution : Finance a strong civil society watch dog organization able to make the European Commission responsible. Instead of wasting huge amounts of money on often poor if not idiotic ideas, donors should ensure the existence of such an organisation. The ERRC for instance should have done this for years.
Example : An organization such as the ERRC should use its lawyers, resources and legislation available to force the European Commission to unveil among other things the following issues :
- What were the conditions needed that lead to the employment of people in charge of Roma social inclusion within the European Commission. Who were the people in the panels recruiting these people and what were their credentials related to the social inclusion of Roma. Make public their CVs.
- What was the activity, the costs and results of Commissioner Reding related to Roma issues.
- What are the total costs of the Roma Unit per year. How much money were spent by the European Commission on Roma related events. What were the concrete results.
- What are the evaluation criteria for people working on Roma within the European Commission.
- Ask the commission to reveal the total amount of grants targeting Roma and the evaluations of these grants.
Problem : the EU funding when it comes to Roma is a catastrophic failure – an immense waste of public money. Yes there were some successes but even most of those are accidents or exceptions. The overall result at the grassroots in Roma communities, the overall increase of anti-Gypsyism in Europe and the very poor absorptions of EU funds that could be used for Roma social inclusion are all clear proofs of failure. Member states continue to show little if any responsibility towards their Roma citizens. Active citizenship including assuming responsibilities for the social inclusion among Roma communities is abysmally low.
Solution: Establish an EU Roma financial mechanism focused on promoting work at the grassroots in the communities. Such a mechanisms needs to employ some of the existing dedicated professionals from the Commission and some of the experts with real hands on expertise in Roma communities. Member states that have a significant Roma population should give a percentage of their contributions towards the EU budget to this financial mechanism. The money should be used to finance the Roma strategies. Member States that complain about the need for more work on Roma issues should also contribute. There are a number of precedents.
Problem: There is a major discrepancy between the bombastic and often deluded speeches of officials in Brussels and the realities on the ground. This discrepancy is also reflected in the strident gap between the targets of the projects financed by EU funds their results and the needs of the communities.
Example: The estimate of an expert from the Romanian National Agency for Roma of the number of undetermined working contracts ( normal long term contract in Romania) for Roma as a result of training paid through EU money is less than 300. The number of people trained – over 50.000. That represents a staggering 0.6 % success rate or 99.4% failure rate.
Solution – Employ within the EC Representations and Delegations in the countries that have significant Roma populations local experts (on temporary contracts) able to represents properly the European Commission at the discussions with the member states. Asses their employment based on the improvements in the effects of EU money within the communities.
Another significant problem stays with the intellectual horizontal spine syndrome (IHSS) affecting most of the EC paid civil society. EC bureaucrats that are focused on their careers and nothing else and some of the independent Roma experts that are paid by the EC or dream to be paid by the EC are also at high risk.
This syndrome forces people to spend most of their professional lives on all fours or crawling. A strict observance of the common intergovernmental institutions Directive LSD/2000 – better known as the Lip Service Directive corroborated with an uncanny ability to rationalize as pearls of wisdom whatever ineptitude that comes up from a donor, superior or celebrity are the main ways to identify this syndrome.
Forced transplant of common sense or vertical spines is simply not enough to treat the syndrome. A strong and courageous watch dog organization might do it. At the end of the day that is the definition of a normal civil society organization. Spineless or badly affected by IHSS lap dogs are not. Unfortunately these last organisations are very successful in getting EU funds.
PS The European Commission refused to accept my presence at the EU Roma Summit due to my flagrant and repeated violations of the Lip-Service Directive.It happens that I am the only Roma expert that received an official accreditation from the Commission for my expertise in 8 fields related to social inclusion. I am also a regional director of the largest organization that works at the grassroots in the region.