Difficult to speak and impossible to be silent
Next week I will publish another chapter of the Euro-Narnian chronicles. Plagiarism, incompetence, window-dressing measures, arrogance, empty wording will be exposed.
I realized that some of my readers might misunderstand the purpose of my articles as a “crusade against the European Commission”. It is not.
The decision to write these articles came from taking part in the Forum 2000 and many readings including Havel’s “The Intellectual and Politics”. Havel thought that intellectuals should be if they do not want to be involved in politics “the ones who constantly hold up a mirror to those in authority, to make sure that the latter truly serve a good thing and that they do not begin to use fine words as a cloak for evil deeds”
The EU’s language is dry and sometimes incomprehensible and that is why I decided to try satire instead of anything else.
Choosing to write critically about the European Institutions and Funding is a very difficult exercise indeed but I believe it is the only way to strengthen those institutions and significantly increase the efficiency of European public money.
Many demagogues, opportunists, populists and extremists did and do not hesitate to attack the European Institutions as a way to justify or hide their own failures. Many times these institutions are unfairly bashed by governments and pressured to deal with issues none of the Member States are capable to deal with.
A number of essential laws against discrimination have been adopted by Member States because of these European Institutions –laws that otherwise would have much delayed or never been approved by the national politicians. Significant funds have been allocated to address extremely difficult and highly unpopular issues by the European Union –no Member State would have allocated similar (and in most cases any) funds from their national budget. Eastern Europe – the part of Europe were most Roma live is nowadays much better that it would have been without the pressure from the European Union. There are many very good things that happen due to these institutions and the European Funding.
The European Commission is a very powerful bureaucracy. It gathers some of the smartest people in Europe ensuring them a very secure and well-paid employment. It distributes and controls important amounts of funding. Most of the European Civil Society depends on those lines of funding. The European Institutional culture is much more towards hierarchical diplomacy (some see it as lip-service including the author) and soft compromise than heated debate and critical thinking – more specific to the civil society.
Incentives for promoting a culture of critical thinking in regard to the activities of the European Commission(EC) and European Funding are in these conditions very limited for the European civil society and in particular for Roma civil society that is overwhelmingly depending on European Funds.
I strongly believe that the EC should in fact promote such a culture of critical thinking at least when it comes to Roma issues as there are many things that do not work that well or at all when it comes to these European Institutions and their funding and policies targeting Roma social inclusion.
Compromises, diplomacy, patience are all required skills in a very difficult construction of a stronger European Union but should not be used as ways to justify: window dressing measures, lip service, inefficient use or waste of public money, arrogance, lack of critical self-evaluations, blunders or cowardice.
To be silent about those, I argue, is against the very basic values of the European Union and profoundly immoral.
In his book “The Idea of Justice “Amartya Sen writes that factoring in “the lives that people manage or do not manage to live” is as important as institutions and rules. “Justice cannot be indifferent to the lives that people can actually live”
Existing institutions and rules dealing with Roma inclusion and anti-Gypsyism are not enough and sometimes not at all connected to the lives that Roma can live or actually live. Reform is needed. Now.