Petition: Pledge for Roma Dignity

7 May 2014

We call upon all participants of the 3rd EU Roma Summit in Brussels to sign the Pledge for Roma Dignity. 

The Roma Dignity Pledge declares that Roma in Europe should be treated with respect, fairness, justice and equality. Equal citizenship for all Roma can only be achieved by eliminating and condemning verbal and physical attacks and discrimination against Roma. Roma need to be listened to, to be included, to be empowered so that Roma can have a sense of pride and self-respect. 

The pledge calls for the end of stereotypical portrayals of Roma as untrustworthy sub-citizens who are inactive and incapable. It expresses our concern that it has become normal and acceptable for anti-Roma sentiments to be openly expressed by European politicians and citizens, and that this phenomenon is increasing. This pledge acknowledges that such treatment hinders the potential of Roma to become active citizens, who are capable of contributing to society. It states that we will assume our responsibilities to act jointly, forcefully and effectively against anti-Gypsyism. This pledge calls for Roma participation in decision-making as an essential element to achieve meaningful Roma inclusion. 

Therefore, we, the signatories of this call, urge for the following measures: 

1. Greater governmental accountability and Roma participation 
Without including the most crucial stakeholders, the Roma themselves, the European Commission and goverments can neither build a lasting solution nor be sincerely accountable towards their Roma fellow citizens. 

We call on the European Commission and national governments to consciously recognize and involve Roma as equal stakeholders in policy development by setting up mechanisms for regular and transparent dialogue with Roma civil society and experts. This dialogue should apply the principles of the ‘European Code of Conduct on Partnership’, which sets out the conditions for genuine and effective involvement of civil society in policy processes. 

We call on the European Commission to create a working group responsible for setting the theme and agenda of upcoming EU Platforms and ensuring continuity in the work between the meetings. That working group shall be established without delay, in order to prepare the upcoming Platform Meeting, planned to take place in November 2014. The Platform should go beyond being a forum for mere rhetoric and exchanges. Rather, it should centre on genuine dialogue between decision-makers and civil society that leads to concrete policy outcomes. This model for the EU Roma Platform should also be followed by national and local governments to involve and empower the Roma meaningfully in the implementation of public policies concerning Roma. 

2. Ending Roma Exclusion in Europe 
In the last decade, the situation of many Roma has worsened. The European Commission and Member States did not solve the systematic discrimination of Roma on the ground, which is a root-cause of failing EU policies and funding. Roma inclusion is a true litmus test of whether the EU is upholding its fundamental values of democracy, fundamental rights, equality and social inclusion. 

We call on all participants of the EU Roma Summit to take a clear stance against anti-Gypsyism and we call on the European Commissioners, ministers and mayors to lead public discourse on combating discrimination against Roma. This should be done by condemning all statements inciting direct or indirect discrimination, hatred or violence against Roma. 

We call on Viviane Reding, Vice-president and Commissioner responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship to hold governments accountable for Roma discrimination and launch infringement proceedings when governments are in violation of EU legislation. 

3. Targeted funding for empowerment of Roma to become equal stakeholders 
Measures to improve living conditions will only succeed if Roma participate in designing and implementing policies. This requires local Roma activists and citizens’ groups to establish relations with local authorities, schools and businesses, and to take the initiative on, and ownership of actions targeting them. However, the EU and national governments need to support grassroots Roma organisations to develop the necessary skills and resources to participate effectively. 

We call on the European Commission to ensure long–term investment in the capacity and strategic development of Roma civil society by setting up and managing a fund to support independent Roma watch-dog and grassroots organisations. This fund should be designed to achieve a sustainable impact and take into account the particularity and complexity of the situation of the Roma. 

We call on the European Commission to conduct an external and independent review of the management of EU funds that have been used for Roma inclusion, to determine whether, and to what extent, they have contributed to effective social inclusion of EU citizens of Romani origin. 


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