Saturday

24th Oct 2020

MEPs call for first-ever EU law on Romani inclusion

  • The EU Fundamental Rights Agency warned that the long-standing neglect of Roma makes them one of the most vulnerable groups to the coronavirus pandemic (Photo: Barbora Haviarová)

The European Parliament has urged the European Commission to propose the first-ever EU law to bolster the inclusion of Romani people in the EU.

MEPs adopted on Thursday (17 September) a report, calling for specific legally-binding targets and a clear timeline for member states, as well as success indicators and adequate funding, to break "the vicious circle of poverty" of these communities.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

"[This is] the beginning of a significant change in the lives of my people. I will continue until the law will become reality," said the rapporteur MEP Romeo Franz, who has also Romani background.

The report pushes for targeted action on education, employment, healthcare, housing and gende- equality - including inclusive schooling, access to healthcare and compensation for victims of forced sterilisation.

"Political support when racism against different minority groups is rising sharply is a key point for the inclusion of Romani people," reads the document.

The report also recommends the use of the term "Romani" as better reflecting the heterogeneity of this community, since "Roma" has been used until now as a common denominator to describe several groups in EU policies and discussions.

Romani are Europe's largest ethnic minority. Out of an estimated 10 to 12 million Romani who live in Europe, around six million live in the EU.

However, nearly 80 percent of Romani in the nine member states with the largest such populations live below that country's poverty threshold - typically in cramped neighbourhoods with overcrowded housing and no access to clean water.

Earlier this year, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency warned that the long-standing neglect of Roma makes them one of the most vulnerable groups to the Covid-19 pandemic.

'Soft' approach not working

In 2011, the EU Commission called on member states to implement National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS) - which are due to expire this year.

These strategies were especially focussed on ensuring that all Romani children complete primary school as well as on improving their access to the labour market, healthcare and housing.

The European Council set a special focus on anti-discrimination and poverty reduction and, after 2016, member states were obliged to present annual assessment on the latest improvements.

However, a recent assessment of the EU Commission concluded that "effectiveness in progress towards Romani integration goals is assessed as overall limited with significant differences across areas and countries,", adding that anti-Gypsy sentiment remains a matter of concern.

The report, approved by 545 MEPs on Thursday, concludes that the NRISs are "soft policy" that relies, mainly, on the political will of the different levels of governance in member states - adding that this approach fails to recognise that the underlying cause of the issue is systemic prejudice.

Similarly, MEP Cornelia Ernst, who is a member of the EU Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup, said that "the current EU Romani framework has failed because of its non-binding nature".

This report comes one month before the EU Commission adopts its new non-legislative strategy on Romani inclusion and equality up to 2030.

Feature

Covid-19's impact on Spanish Roma

There has been a lack of food and of basic necessities in many Roma households, which were already living in a state of extreme poverty and vulnerability: more than 40 percent experienced difficulty in accessing food.

Opinion

Anti-Roma hatred on streets of Budapest

Remarkably, no national or EU leader has yet publicly condemned the aggressive and open dissemination of violent hate speech in Hungary's capital. Only Budapest's mayor Gergely Karácsony has raised his voice in protest.

Feature

Pandemic: Roma at receiving end of racist policing

The reports we have received at the European Roma Rights Centre of extreme hardship, police violence, ethnic profiling and hate speech against Roma since the pandemic hit Europe, highlight the need for extra vigilance when governments adopt emergency powers.

Coronavirus

Roma 'at heightened risk' from corona crisis

The EU's Agency for Fundamental Rights has warned that Roma inequality and discrimination is growing due to the coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, the EU Commission will present a strategy for Roma equality to tackle discrimination.

Opinion

Why EU's new Roma strategy is welcome, but toothless

How do we actually want to improve the precarious situation of millions of people with Romani background in Europe, when political leaders in the countries with some of the highest Romani populations openly nourish anti-gypsyist stereotypes, like in Hungary?

Polish court effectively bans legal abortions

The human rights commissioner of the Council of Europe said the ruling marked a "sad day for women's rights", adding that more women will seek abortions underground and abroad.

News in Brief

  1. UK scientists fear Brexit blow to joint EU research
  2. Greek migrant camp lockdown extended
  3. Lukashenko and 14 others in EU crosshairs
  4. EU imposes sanctions over 2015 Bundestag cyberattack
  5. Italy reignites Mont Blanc border dispute with France
  6. Commission to press Croatia on migrant 'abuse' at border
  7. Belarus opposition awarded 2020 Sakharov Prize
  8. Belgium's foreign minister in intensive care for Covid-19

Coronavirus

EU tries to avoid lockdowns as global death toll reaches 1m

Several member states are putting forward restrictive Covid-19-related measures to try to control the surge of numbers of coronavirus cases, trying to avoid a second lockdown. Meanwhile, the global death toll from the novel coronavirus has reached one million.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. South Caucasus death toll much worse than feared
  2. Polish court effectively bans legal abortions
  3. MEPs urge EU to be ready to dump disputed energy treaty
  4. EU commission on defensive over 'revolving doors'
  5. Why German presidency is wrong on rule of law
  6. Nato and EU silent on Turkey, despite Armenia's appeal
  7. EU tells UK to decide on Brexit as deal 'within reach'
  8. EU farming deal attacked by Green groups

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us