Despite being Europe’s largest minority, Roma communities still suffer from widespread discrimination and marginalisation. This prevents them from accessing fundamental rights to education, employment, decent housing or basic health services, the European Commission said in a statement ahead of April 8, International Roma Day.
“Antigypsyism is on the rise. We are witnessing extreme speeches, including from politicians, and the spreading of hate speech and fake news online, European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioners Johannes Hahn, Marianne Thyssen, Vĕra Jourová and Corina Creţu said.
“Words lead to hate, and hate leads to violence. We have to be vigilant that Roma do not again become the target of harassment and attacks. We must learn from our history and we must prevent fanning the flames of past hatred,” the statement said.
“To do this we need to firmly stand by our founding values. The EU stands for a society where equal treatment is the reality for all minorities, and in which the same rights and opportunities are afforded to Roma communities as to anyone else. This is who we are.”
The statement said that International Roma Day is an opportunity to look at what has been done at EU and national level to improve Roma inclusion.
The work of member states has been guided by the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies since 2011 with EU funds also available to support the integration of Roma. “This strategy is bearing fruit; we are seeing improvements, particularly in the field of education.”
“But, we still have a long way to go to make sure that Roma communities can fulfil their potential. The European Commission encourages EU countries, as well as partners with a European Perspective, to uphold their commitments, to strengthen the fight against discrimination and to support Roma participation and representation in the political sphere, in our economies and societies. They are us.
“Putting an end to centuries of marginalisation requires Europe-wide cooperation. Politicians, from national to local level, need to improve trust between Roma and non-Roma communities, and ensure that they enjoy the same rights and opportunities as other Europeans,” the statement said.
The European Commission noted that Roma are Europe’s largest minority community – with six million Roma living in the EU and four million in the enlargement region (Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Turkey).Yet, they have long faced inequalities, social exclusion, discrimination and marginalisation.
The European Commission’s recent evaluation of the 2011 EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020 has assessed how Roma Integration Strategies have been implemented across the EU.
The Roma Civil Monitor pilot project shows some positive improvements, in particular in the field of education, but more needs to be done to fight discrimination and promote the social and economic inclusion of Roma communities, the EC said.
EU action has provided added value to national Roma policies and their implementation through political, governance and financial dimensions, the Commission said.
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