24th Mar 2018

EU failing on Roma rights

  • Roma children face a daunting future in Europe (Photo: Council of Europe)

EU and member states are failing to help Roma communities, with some 80 percent still facing the risk of poverty.

A report on Tuesday (29 November) by the Vienna-based Agency for Fundamental Rights reveals one in three live in households with no tap water, while one in ten has no electricity.

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The figures reveal the failure of repeated integration goals, from the EU commission in 2011 and EU states in 2013.

Agency director Michael O’Flaherty, in a statement, described the deprivation and discrimination against the Roma as a "grave failure of law and policy in the EU and its member states."

"Our manifest inability in Europe to honour the human rights of our Roma communities is unacceptable," he said.

The report surveyed some 25,000 people across all EU states. Of those, almost 8,000 were Roma, Europe's largest minority group.

The face-to-face interviews reveal national and EU-led efforts to increase employment, education, housing and healthcare have a long way to go.

Almost the entire Roma population in Spain, 98 percent, have an income below the national poverty threshold, followed by Greece at 96 percent and Croatia with 93 percent.

And at least a quarter of those interviewed said someone in their household had gone to bed hungry in the past month.

The report notes that the 2013 EU goal to reduce poverty through social investment "is far from being reached".

2013 commission guidelines to address Roma child poverty and social exclusion have also failed to achieve results.

Few Roma children attend pre-school or kindergarten in Greece and Slovakia. Those between 7 to 15 also have restricted access to education, when compared to non-Roma and just under half of those between 15 to 18 don't attend any school at all.

Most Roma in Slovakia, Hungary, and Bulgaria find themselves in segregated schools, despite laws which make it illegal.

One in ten Roma children living in Greece and Romania are working instead of going to school.

The report notes that the vast majority of Roma still have no idea about state structures set up to help them deal with discrimination.

Yet the results are still marginally better when compared to a similar survey carried out in 2012 by the agency in 11 EU states, which revealed that 90 percent of those interviewed were at risk of poverty.

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