Roma Exclusion in Europe: Do you know? Do you care?

21 March 2013

European Roma Grassroots Organizations Network (ERGO) staff and members walked out, last Friday, on a European Commission (EC) conference with the aim of signalling to the organizers and speakers that systematically ignoring Roma people and Roma experts during the process of formulation of policies targeting the Roma is unacceptable.

ERGO Network articulated, in the past year, several proposals for a structured dialogue and cooperation between the Roma Civil Society and the EC, which have been ignored. The involvement of Roma civil society would have helped to address local-level Roma issues throughout the design of European funding programmes, in particular for the 2014-2020 programming period.

The organization recently sent an open letter to Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding asking for the involvement of Roma Civil Society in the design and implementation of Roma Policies and Programmes and for the support of independent Roma watch-dog and grassroots organisations. The same call is further reflected in an online petition that already gathered 400 signatures, including those of Members of the European Parliament.

"We noticed that Roma are merely subjects, not actors in European policy-making. It would be considered unacceptable for a gender policy to be designed without women being at the core of the process. Unfortunately, in the case of Roma policies, this is considered permissible", said Ruus Dijksterhuis, Director of ERGO.

She added: "The EC Communication of May 2012 states that "Roma are often victims of racism, discrimination and social exclusion and live in deep poverty; lacking access to healthcare and decent housing. Many Roma women and children are victims of violence, exploitation and trafficking in human beings." In fact, the situation of Roma worsened in the past years."   

"The low rates of funds absorption in most Member States with a significant Roma population should prompt a reform of the current EU programmes. Instead, the Roma are ignored in the shaping of the policies and programmes targeting them. On top of that, the fact that credible Roma NGOs are disappearing, is alarming", concluded Ruus Dijksterhuis.

The online petition URGENT CALL TO STOP THE DECLINE OF ROMA CIVIL SOCIETY is available at: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/urgant-call-to-stop-the-decline-of-roma-civil/. The petition marks the launch of the advocacy campaign "Exclusion of Roma in Europe, do you know, do you care?"

For further information, please contact:

Gabriela Hrabanova, Policy Coordinator, ERGO Network,

Tel/mobile: +32 (0)489 974 753 - E-mail: g.hrabanova@ergonetwork.org

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