Tuesday

4th Aug 2020

EU gives blessing for Italy's Roma fingerprint scheme

Italy's plan to fingerprint Roma people has received a green light from the European Commission, with Brussels' experts suggesting that the controversial measures are not discriminatory or in breach of EU standards.

A commission spokesman told journalists on Thursday (4 September) that the practice proposed by Italian authorities earlier this year is only aimed at identifying persons "who cannot be identified in any other way" and excludes the collection of "data relating to ethnic origin or the religion of people."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Italy plans to fingerprint only people who cannot be identified in other way (Photo: Wikipedia)

The centre-right government of Silvio Berlusconi sparked protests from human rights organisations and several in the European Parliament after announcing its plan to fingerprint Roma people - including children - as part of a census of Roma camps.

Some critics of the move compared it to the policies of Benito Mussolini, the country's fascist leader during the Second World War.

EU justice and security commissioner Jacques Barrot had earlier himself voiced concerns about the legality of the census, asking the Italian government to respond to the criticism by revealing the details of the practice.

But his spokesperson said on Thursday that the report submitted by Italy's authorities in early August showed that no EU principles of human rights protection or non-discrimination were violated, as due to the "good co-operation" between Brussels and Rome, some "debatable measures" had been changed.

Italy's interior minister Roberto Maroni from the anti-immigration Northern League party welcomed the evaluation as "highly satisfying," adding that it is "fair after all the accusations and insults we have received over the past few months," according to ANSA agency.

The European Parliament is also planning to perform its own research into the controversial practice, with a delegation of MEPs set to visit some camps and seek details on how the census is carried out.

Reacting to the commission's blessing to the Italian plan, Hungarian Roma liberal MEP Viktoria Mohacsi said: "I find it most strange that, contrary to the commission statement claiming compliance with the EU law, the fingerprinting procedure seemed to be applied exclusively to Roma, which I cannot interpret otherwise than a discriminatory treatment targeting one specific ethnic group."

Between 90,000 and 110,000 Roma live in Italy, according to the Council of Europe. Many live there without official permission and have set up temporary camps.

Earlier this year, Mr Berlusconi's government declared a national state of emergency in response a sharp rise in crime blamed mainly on foreign nationals, particularly from Romania, and adopted several laws clamping down on clandestine migrants. The centre-left opposition suggested such a reaction was only further boosting xenophobic sentiment across the country.

Italy must face legal action for anti-Gypsy measures, says Soros

Billionaire philanthropist and financier George Soros has said at a top-level EU conference on the problems facing Roma people in Europe that he supports legal action against Italy over recent anti-Gypsy measures, particularly the fingerprinting of adults and children.

Italy to raise EU citizen expulsion policy at September meeting

Italy has said it intends to expel citizens from other EU states if they are not able to support themselves, in a move apparently inspired by France's current crackdown on Roma. It wants to raise the issue at a meeting of EU interior ministers early next month.

EU Parliament considers streamlining rule-of-law tools

As the EU struggles to stop breaches of rule-of-law, and democratic backsliding, in some member states, the European Parliament plans to propose one single overarching tool to effectively monitor rogue capitals.

News in Brief

  1. France imposes new Covid-19 tests on visitors
  2. Brussels closes all mosques for Eid festival
  3. Amsterdam and Rotterdam tighten face mask measures
  4. UK tightens lockdown measures in north England
  5. EU banking watchdog warning on 26 banks
  6. 60,000 rally in Minsk ahead of Belarus election
  7. 'Better Regulation' is key for EU policy-making, auditors say
  8. Polish tribunal to examine EU gender-violence treaty

EUobserver under attack in wider battle for EU free press

If EU citizens want to know the truth, then journalists need protection from malicious litigation, as EUobserver joined the list of targets, over an article about the late Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. EU mishandling corona-travel, Belgian expert says
  2. France wants rule-of-law sanctions on recovery budget
  3. The three 'Elephants in Room' in EU-India relations
  4. First use of new EU sanctions against Russia, China hackers
  5. Six 'LGBTI-free' Polish cities left out of EU funding
  6. EU's new Security Union Strategy is a good first step
  7. US 'cavalry' leaving Germany to go back home
  8. Why is building renovation 'Cinderella' of EU Green Deal?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us