Sunday, September 5, 2010

EU billions for Roma “go missing” (17.4 billion €)

Europe has failed to get a grip on the approximate 10 million Roma people who live within the European Union. Brussels is pumping billions into projects to improve the lives of the continent’s largest ethnic minority. In spite of this, the Roma remain a headache dossier form many European member states.

In France, police broke up Roma camps up and down the country this summer. At least 8,100 Roma were put on planes to Romania and Bulgaria, the countries where they have originally come from, with a cheque in their hands. Opponents of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s harsh policies called the operation “deportations”. President Sarkozy, supported by a large part of the population, thinks Romania and Bulgaria should do more to look after their returning citizens.
These two countries are being given a lot of European money to do just this. The European Social Fund invests 17.5 billion euros in 'vulnerable groups' in Europe. The lion’s share, more than 13 billion over a period of six years, is earmarked for use with the Roma. "That is an awful lot," says a Brussels researcher who has investigated the amounts paid out.

Self control

The money which flows to agencies in eastern Europe is extensively checked by the European Commission. But on the subject of how the money is finally spent in, for example, Romania “it is up to the Romanians themselves” says a source within the commission.
"The chance that the money is used for other purposes, is a constant risk," says Romanian MEP Renate Weber.
Her colleague Dennis de Jong of the Dutch Socialist Party goes further, he says a large portion of European money, intended for Roma integration projects in eastern Europa, “goes missing” . He adds that the European Auditor has been warning for some time that it is impossible to vouch for a lot of that money. It is often a question of corruption.

Political correctness

The political correctness with which west European politicians speak about the problems of Roma, doesn't hamper discussions in east European politics. Most East Europeans are incredibly discriminatory towards Roma. Hungarian, Czech and Bulgarian social workers are adament: it is evident that Roma are disadvantaged, but what role do Roma themselves play?
"They are responsible for their own negative image," say many people running Roma projects. Their experience is that the Roma are not particularly motivated to change their predicament.
Meanwhile, planeloads of Chinese, Vietnamese and Indians fly into Romania every day to replace the Romanians who are going to work in west European countries. An absurd situation thinks Ms Weber. The Asians are "cheaper and more disciplined workers. While the Roma reject this imposed discipline."
She thinks there is a lot of discrimination on the Romanian labour market. Ms Weber: "Romanian employers prefer to take on Chinese or Vietnamese workers."
On Monday, integration ministers from six EU member states will meet in Paris to discuss a tough deportation policy. President Sarkozy has only invited countries which already take a hard line. The Netherlands is not one of them.

EU billions for Roma “go missing” is written by Tijn Sadée

Day Opening - September 5

Woman watching the Black sea, Garipce, Istanbul, by Brian Underwoood,

Statement #43

Who are the best teachers?
Your students!