Tuesday

23rd Jul 2019

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 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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 proposes yearly rule of law 'reports'

EU states ought to undergo a yearly "Rule of Law Review Cycle" to help stop countries such as Hungary, Poland, and Romania from backsliding on EU norms, the European Commission has said.

EU defends US data pact, as Facebook court case opens

An Austrian privacy campaigner vs Facebook over the future of data transfers to the US case opened at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg on Tuesday. The European Commission, meanwhile, says the Privacy Shield pact is working fine.

News in Brief

  1. Agriculture MEPs elect far-right vice-chair
  2. Johnson is next British prime minister
  3. Johnson set to be announced British PM on Tuesday
  4. UK-based owners of .eu domains could keep name
  5. Weyand: EU would respond to US tariffs on cars
  6. UK foreign office minister quits ahead of Johnson as PM
  7. AKK to boost Bundeswehr budget to Nato target
  8. Police arrest 25 after Polish LGBT-march attack

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Macron: 14 EU states agree on a migration 'mechanism'
  2. As Johnson set to become PM, ministers pledge to resign
  3. Poland's PiS prepares 'failsafe' for October election
  4. Abortion Wars
  5. EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK
  6. Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules
  7. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  8. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us