Monday

3rd Aug 2020

Italy rejects accusations of racism from EU assembly

  • Italy dismissed accusation of racism for its plans to fingerprint Roma children (Photo: Amnesty International)

Italy has rejected criticism by the European Parliament of the country's move to fingerprint Roma people, including children.

MEPs on Thursday (10 July) adopted a resolution calling the practise discriminatory and against EU rules. Meanwhile, Rome is defending its actions as a mechanism to protect Roma children from abuse.

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

The statement was adopted with 336 votes in favour, 220 against and 77 abstentions. Pushed by the left-leaning and centrist political groups, the Greens and Liberals, the resolution was opposed mainly by centre-right MEPs, who argued Rome should be given a chance to explain its policy.

Several deputies brought up the issue during a debate with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country currently holds the six-month rotating EU presidency, urging him to press Italy's right-wing leadership to shelve the controversial measures.

German deputy Martin Schultz, chairperson of the Socialist group in the parliament, called the fingerprinting of Roma people a "serious breach of fundamental rights in Europe". He demanded of Mr Sarkozy: "Can I ask you to appeal to curb the government of Silvio Berlusconi and remind him that this is against the rule of law."

But the French leader repeatedly refused to "give lessons" to his Italian counterpart, arguing that it was not he who had voted Silvio Berlusconi in power.

In their resolution, MEPs referred to recent Eurobarometer surveys that report that Roma are one of the main targets of racism and discrimination in some European countries. They also highlighted incidents involving attacks and aggression against Roma in Italy and Hungary.

They expressed concern that a 12-month "state of emergency" could be justified in Italy by the presence of Romany camps, and urged the EU executive to check whether the Italian measures comply with the bloc's law.

But Roberto Maroni, the Italian interior minister from the anti-immigration Northern League, dismissed such suggestions, arguing Rome is trying to rescue children stolen from other countries and that the fingerprinting is to be carried out only in illegal camps in Rome, Milan and Naples and only of people without documents.

The Council of Europe estimates Italy's roma population as between 90,000 and 110,000.

UNICEF, the UN organisation for children rights, recently expressed "shock and deep concern" and called the Italian proposal "provocative".

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.

Six 'LGBTI-free' Polish cities left out of EU funding

Six Polish cities that declared themselves as "LGBTI-free zones" have been denied funding under the EU's Town Twinning programme for failing to meet the standards of "equal access and non-discrimination".

EU states agree on corona hygiene standards for aviation

German transport minister, Andreas Scheuer, announced that EU member states have agreed on common hygiene standards on planes and airports - as major airlines are calling for a joint coronavirus-testing programme in order to resume trans-Atlantic travel.

MEPs give green light to road transport sector reform

MEPs adopted on Thursday the Mobility Package covering truck drivers' working conditions - rejecting amendments pushed by central and eastern member states. However, the European Commission warned that two new rules might be not align with the Green Deal.

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

Opinion

Why so few women in EU missions?

Angela Merkel is only the seventh woman to chair the Council of the European Union's meetings. And in 2020 there is no woman leading any of the current 11 European civilian missions (let alone the six military operations).

Opinion

On toppling statues

The internationally-acclaimed author of King Leopold's Ghost, Adam Hochschild, writes on Belgium's problems with statues, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

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