Wednesday

22nd Nov 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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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.

Mladic found guilty for Bosnia genocide and war crimes

The former Bosnian Serb warlord was sentenced to life in prison for committing genocide and war crimes in Srebrenica and Sarajevo. Mladic is still regarded as a 'hero' among some Bosnian Serbs, in a country undergoing resurgent nationalism.

MEPs point finger at Malta

The European Parliament debated shady deals and rule of law in Malta after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, while the Commission wanted to avoid a "political fight".

Austrian privacy case against Facebook hits legal snag

Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems may sue Facebook Ireland in an Austrian court but won't be able to pursue a class action suit in Austria, according to a non-binding opinion by a top EU court advisor.

EU Parliament 'cookie' restrictions worry online media

The European Parliament and groups representing newspapers and magazines are at odds over how new privacy rules will affect the media, especially restrictions on website cookies - but one MEP thinks it could spark new business models.

MEP switches vote on 'private expenses' transparency

A small group of MEPs are looking into how members of the European Parliament spend the monthly €4,300 'private expenses' funded by taxpayer money. Last month, MEPs voted on transparency amendments on the funds.

News in Brief

  1. December euro summit still on, Tusk confirms
  2. EU calls for end to Kenya election crisis
  3. Report: Israeli PM invited to meet EU ministers
  4. French banks close Le Pen accounts
  5. Commission relaxes rules on labelling free range eggs
  6. Commission issues €34m fine over car equipment cartel
  7. Estonian presidency 'delighted' with emissions trading vote
  8. Mladic found guilty of genocide and war crimes

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  2. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  3. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  4. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  6. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  7. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  8. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  9. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  10. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  11. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  12. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure

Latest News

  1. Mali blames West for chaos in Libya
  2. Orban stokes up his voters with anti-Soros 'consultation'
  3. Commission warns Italy over high debt level
  4. Mladic found guilty for Bosnia genocide and war crimes
  5. Uber may face fines in EU for keeping data breach secret
  6. EU counter-propaganda 'harms' relations, Russia says
  7. The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik
  8. Glyphosate: 1.3 million EU citizens call for ban