Monday

21st Jan 2019

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

... or join 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.

EU to propose scrapping summer time change

Based on the preliminary results of an online survey in which mostly Germans took part, the EU executive is proposing that the whole EU stops changing times in March and October.

Investigation

How to get around the EU posted workers directive

Some EU careworkers in Belgium receive around €400 a month - despite their carers paying €2,500 a month and paying for flights and accommodation. The answer lies in how firms can skirt the safeguards in the EU's posted workers directive.

Feature

Resetting the gender balance through football

Many sports, like football, have been so heavily male-dominated at every level that women and girls have battled against poor odds to be treated as equals in the game. FIFA aims to change that.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Stakeholder

A touch of football at this year's G20 summit

FIFA president Gianni Infantino addressed the G20 leaders and placed football at their disposal as a powerful tool to help them address the challenges facing the world today.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK
  2. Germany led way on EU rights protection
  3. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  4. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  5. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  6. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  7. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  8. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us