Sunday

25th Jun 2017

Watchdog warns of 'blatant racism' against Roma

  • Discrimination against Roma is on the rise (Photo: Council of Europe)

Europe's Roma population is subject to growing discrimination and more and more attacks by extremist groups, according to the Strasbourg-based human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe (CoE).

The council in a 250-page report published on Monday (27 February) said they suffer from "blatant racism" and have a life expectancy 10 years less than the average in several EU member states including Hungary, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"They remain far behind others in education, employment, access to decent housing and health," the CoE's human rights commissioner Thomas Hammarberg told reporters in Brussels.

He noted that a cycle of disadvantage, exclusion, segregation and marginalisation feeds into a growing "anti-gypsyism" that uses Roma as a scapegoat to explain away society's ills while simultaneously depriving them of any chance to improve their lives.

The council report cited as examples of the trend recent marches into Roma camps by Hungarian exremist groups wearing paramilitary uniforms. Extremists in the country between 2008 and 2009 murdered six Roma, including a five-year-old child.

It added that in Sofia, Roma families were 10 years ago forced out of homes they legally owned to make way for a commercial centre. The families were placed in shipping containers, described as temporary housing units by the government until more adequate lodging could be found. But after nearly a decade, the families are still in the containers where they share a single outdoor faucet. None have toilets.

The stories are not unique.

In Italy in 2008 the image of Italian holidaymakers sunbathing on the beach next to the corpses of two Roma girls drew widespread condemnation.

Meanwhile, Ivan Ivanov, the executive director of the Brussels-based European Roma Information Office, said it is a popular misconception that Roma-related problems are concentrated solely in eastern and central Europe.

"Roma civil society in eastern and central European countries are generally better developed and more vocal than their western counterparts," he told EUobserver, noting that severe problems exist in the Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, Italy and France.

The French authorities are for instance still deporting Roma migrants from other EU countries despite the uproar in 2010 when it was discovered they were officially targeting the ethnic group and had labeled them as a "threat against public security."

Integrating Roma starts by Europe coming to terms with the crimes committed against the population, the CoE noted. "The apology and recognition of crimes against the Roma is the first step," said Hammarberg.

The Roma population was decimated by Nazi Germans but this was never acknowledged at the 1946 Nuremburg trials which sentenced Hitler's inner circle to death for crimes against humanity.

The European Commission has requested all EU member states to submit strategy reports and actions plans on how to best integrate the around 10 million Roma into their respective societies.

The plans should present a set of policy measures to improve their education, employment, healthcare and housing.

Nineteen final texts have been submitted to the commission while the remainder are either draft versions or have yet to be submitted. Member states are scheduled to discuss the national strategies at the end of March.

"To be honest, some of the strategies are far from the European Commission’s criteria," said Ivanov, noting that the final draft version of the submitted Dutch action plan is only six-pages long.

EU becoming less tolerant, NGO says

Racist mobs in Greece and Hungary, mistreatment of Roma, Arab migrants and Muslim terrorist suspects and a feeble reaction by EU institutions point to a worrying right-wing shift inside the EU, Human Rights Watch says.

Border management going virtual

EU leaders at a summit in Brussels are set to endorse new border control measures, while the head of a Tallinn-based EU agency predicts a future where border management goes virtual.

Interview

EU visa waiver unlikely to import Ukraine crime

Visa-free travel, which began last week, unlikely to prompt a Ukrainian crime wave, an EU police expert has said, but Ukraine itself is seeing increases in lawlessness.

Opinion

Why Schengen deserves to be saved

Far-right parties around Europe have managed to turn the passport-free Schengen area into a game of political hot potato despite its numerous benefits.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  2. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  3. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  4. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  5. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  6. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  7. Ireland and Denmark outside EU military plan
  8. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  2. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  3. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  4. EU extends sanctions on Russia
  5. UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'
  6. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  7. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  8. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit