European Union funds not reaching the Roma of Romania
When heavy industry collapsed during the 1980’s with the fall of the iron curtain, many poorly qualified Roma were left unemployed. Added to this, is the plight of Roma children who face segregation in schools and who do not catch up with others, often because of starting school very late. Marian Mandache of Roma NGO Romani Criss described a school for disabled children that was almost exclusively attended by Roma children and noted that: "When these children are first sent to school at the age of seven, the course of a lifetime is already set for many of them; they simply do not catch up with others ".
When Mr Lazlo Andor, EU social affairs commissioner, visited Bucharest last week, it was observed by members of his delegation that the reason why the Romanian government has fallen short of using the funds available to them, was down to incompetence and low standards of administration. One delegate told the euobserver that "Romanian politicians prefer to take the easy route around the mess of social, economic and cultural problems that entangle the Roma…standards in the Romanian administration are incredibly low,with officials neither willing nor capable to apply for EU money despite offers to train them ".
According to the report, €3.7 billion has been allotted to Romania until 2013 from the European Social Fund (ESF) yet less than 14 per cent has been spent so far. Another aide to the delegation noted that: "I wouldn't be astonished if they lost billions - we let them join the EU too early ".
Mr Andor stressed that the European Commission could only offer its help to Romania; it is up to the Romanian politicians to act.
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