Roma NGOs Pushing for the Roma agenda with VP Reding, EC

16 May 2013

ERPC calls on the European Commission to ensure greater Roma participation and more effective measures to combat discrimination. The ERPC welcomes the invitation from Vice-President Reding and Commissioner Andor to discuss the implementation of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020. This discussion is very timely as the lack of progress in many Member States is a cause for alarm.

Despite the commitment to promote Roma inclusion at the level of European Union institutions, Roma communities within Member States continue to face increasing prejudice, discrimination, harassment and physical intimidation. In a climate of increased social tension, the Roma have been increasingly targeted as scapegoats by far-right populists. The capacity to absorb and manage EU funds available for Roma integration is weak, and the impact on Roma communities remains negligible. Roma exclusion continues unabated, and Roma participation at national and EU level remains conspicuously low.
 
“EU institutions need to react more promptly and forcefully to such incidents, and take a lead to work with Member States to ensure that challenging anti-Roma prejudice in the public sphere becomes a broad-based and sustained effort, fully integrated into the Framework up to 2020. The recognition of the specificity and prevalence of anti-Gypsyism is necessary for any social inclusion measures to succeed and for existing EU legislation to be efficiently enforced” says Dezideriu Gergely from European Roma Right Center. The ERPC calls on the European Commission to officially recognize anti-Gypsyism as a distinct, long-standing and deeply rooted form of European prejudice.
 
According to Nicolas Beger, Director of European Institutions Office of Amnesty International  “The Commission needs also to work with Member States to ensure consistent implementation of anti-discrimination legislation, to review all regulations and codes of conduct in national and local administration and among public service providers to eliminate direct and indirect discriminatory practices” . The ERPC therefore calls on the European Commission to fulfil its responsibility to ensure full and effective implementation of the Race Equality Directive.
 
The Council Conclusions invited the Commission, in cooperation with the Member States “to promote the empowerment, active involvement and necessary participation of Roma themselves at all levels of policy development,” and made specific mention of the need to consolidate the capacity of Roma NGOs. 
 
ERPC calls on the Commission and Member States to fully heed this recommendation. If the Framework is to succeed it is vital that Roma are actively involved in the design, decision-making and implementation of all policies and measures that directly affect them. “In line with the Council recommendation, the Commission should take a lead to ensure that Roma civil society is empowered to participate in the policy process, and where necessary, to hold local and national authorities to account” say Costel Bercus from Roma Education Fund.
 
“Too often EU funds actually contribute to widening rather than closing the gaps and inequalities” says Gabriela Hrabanova from ERGO Network. “Specific EU funds should be dedicated for Roma integration and empowerment, managed by the Commission and accessible for civil society providing long-term support for independent Roma NGOs and pro-Roma NGOs, networks and local groups and for local and regional development projects”.
 
ERPC has a rotating chairmanship. Currently Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG) from Spain is the chair (belen.sanchez@gitanos.org) with co-chairs European Roma Information Office (office@erionet.eu) and European Roma Rights Center (marek.szilvasi@ERRC.ORG).
 
ERGO network supports the ERCP as coordinating secretariat (g.hrabanova@ergonetwork.org) +32 (0)489 974 753 or (2) 8931049

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