Broadcasted on 5 May 2018
Roelie Post: The Life of a Whistle-Blower
Someone who also personally got confronted with this heavy pressure of the adoption lobby, is Gunter Verheugen. This German politician was as Commissioner for the European Commission responsible for the accession of new members to the EU. So also Romania.
Verheugen wanted to stop the trade in children. Under his ruling, in 2001 a moratorium was put in place. A temporary stop on Romanian adoptions. Verheugen felt what this stop brought about. Also inside his own organisation.
Because he felt he was being opposed, Verheugen took measures:
In time it became clear that my attitude in this case of child trafficking in Romania got huge political resistance. In many countries, NGO’s and people with a lot of power.
There were strong reactions. From the US, Israel, Italy and France. There was also a significant resistance within the European Commission regarding this issue. Also in my own Directorate General, because high-level civil servants had a completely different view.
They held my tough attitude towards Romania for wrong.
I had the feeling that I got not 100 percent and correctly informed. And then I took an unusual decision and put Roelie directly under me. This way she could inform me without the in-between of the Director General.
That Director General was the Spanish Eneko Landaburu. He wanted indeed that the Romanian adoptions continued.
That becomes clear from an amicable letter from April 2001 from Landaburu to one of the most important lobbyists: François Polge de Combret. The letter became public through a request under the Regulation for access to documents. Landaburu says that the blockage of adoption procedures is very alarming. And he promises to convince the Romanian authorities that rapid re-opening of the adoption procedures is necessary.
Remarkable detail: the wives of De Combret and Landaburu are cousins.
It was in this confusing and sensitive setting that Commissioner Verheugen requested an adoption stop from Romania.
I have told the Romanian Prime Minister clearly: I don’t want to finalise the accession of Romania if this issue is not solved. “Pistole auf der Brust” [Sic. German expression for extreme pressure].
The Romanians have changed the laws, and adoptions abroad were forbidden.
Ana Gomes, the Portuguese Member of the European Parliament (Alliance of Progressive Socialists and Democrats) had children’s rights in her portfolio. She also experienced how aggressive the pro-adoption lobbyists worked.
In several of our Member States but also in the United States and in Israel, who had an interest in importing children from Romania, were many groups who had an interest in adopting children from Romania. It was also about economic interests. Many people were of vicious reputation. They placed Romanian children in rich families, in the US and in Europe.
Ana Gomes also personally experienced how powerful the lobby was.
So I felt that lobby. I saw it acting. Here in the Parliament. And I can tell you, it is a very strong and organised lobby. A lot of money involved.
At the same time there was hardly any control possible. It was unclear, how the children who were adopted abroad, were doing. I am convinced there were criminal organisations involved.