International Roma Day: Call for real commitment to Roma inclusion by EU Member States

6 April 2012

ERGO Network ahead of International Roma Day on 8 April, joined European Roma Policy Coalition (ERPC) and  other Roma civil society organisations from across Europe in a call for greater commitment and effort on Roma inclusion and in the fight against anti-Gypsyism/racism. 

“We are witnessing worrying incidents of anti-Roma rhetoric and even violence across Europe. What we need is concrete commitment by Member States and the European Commission to address this. Unfortunately, it seems most National Roma Integration Strategies don’t deliver”, said Michaël Privot, Director of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR).

At the Extraordinary EU Platform on Roma Inclusion on 22 March 2012, civil society organisations welcomed the Commission-led initiative, calling on Member States to develop strategies for Roma inclusion. Strategies should be effective and contain clear targets, timelines, and implementation and reporting mechanisms. They should not be considered just as a formal exercise to satisfy the Commission’s request.

Civil society organisations’ assessments of the Strategies show that they do not sufficiently include anti-discrimination measures. “Racism and discrimination are a major cause of Roma exclusion. Unless the strategies contain concrete anti-discrimination measures, they are doomed to failure”, said Ivan Ivanov, Director of the European Roma Information Office (ERIO). These measures must be an integral part of efforts to boost access to education and employment for Roma and address structural discrimination in policy making and law enforcement.”

The effectiveness of the National Roma Integration Strategies also depends on ensuring wide participation of Roma representatives and civil society organisations. Regretfully, not all Member States properly involved and consulted Roma civil society in the process of designing the national strategies. The signatory organisations, therefore, urge EU Member States and the European Commission to promote effective participation of Roma civil society throughout the process – from conception to assessment, and on all levels – from local to EU. This includes stronger Roma civil society involvement at the Roma Platforms as well. It is, for instance, unacceptable that at the last EU Roma Platform, only 3 out of 29 speakers had a Roma background. Civil society organisations also called for governments of the enlargement countries to be included in the process of reviewing and submitting their National Roma Integration Strategies in line with the EU Framework.

Full joint Press Statement is available here

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