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Anti-Gypsism in Europe: open letter to European Commission

April 30
09:21 2015


Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission

Vivian Reding , Commissioner Fundamental Rights

Laszlo Andor, Commissioner Social Affairs and Employment

Brussels, October 3rd 2011

Concerning: Lack of commitment European Commission on increased Anti-Gypsyism in Europe


For the last 6 years, we, at the European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network, say that Europe risks to see an explosion of inter-ethnic conflict due to the widespread and deeply rooted anti-Gypsyism.

Nowadays all over Bulgaria extremist groups attack Roma neighbourhoods, led by the far-right political parties and joined by football hooligans, create a climate of fear and insecurity. In the Czech Republic a number of anti-Roma marches, resulted in violence and clashes between Roma and non-Roma. Slogans such as “gypsies to the gas chambers” a stark reminder of Nazi persecution of Jews and Roma. In Hungary, Roma have been murdered, their houses were burned and the marches by paramilitary organizations tolerated by authorities. In Western European countries, such as Italy, Belgium, France and Germany, we witness blatant violations of basic Human Rights of Roma with little or no reactions to condemn abuses. Thousands of calls for the extermination of Roma continue to be found every day on the Internet all around Europe.

This needs to be stopped. The same way the tendency of empty rhetoric and non response of the European Union needs to be stopped. For the last years

we repeatedly asked the Commission to assume responsibility and leadership. So far, the Commission did its utmost to take minimal actions and pass the responsibility towards member states (which indeed need to show responsibility, but so does the Commission). The actions took by the Commission were focused on short-term, simplistic measures that leave unaddressed the root-causes of Roma exclusion and increased polarisation between Roma and the majorities.

Curbing anti-Gypsyism through long-term, well-financed awareness campaigns and a focus on hands-on approaches to stimulate active citizenship of Roma and non-Roma towards an inclusive European society remain marginal issues within the EU Roma policies.

The approach the EU has towards building effective and responsible mechanisms within the European Commission capable to address the very complex issues related to the social inclusion of 12 million Roma are completely insufficient and irresponsible. Despite acknowledgment of the dangers of social exclusion of Roma the Commission put in charge of Roma issues only informal and often inept mechanisms.

Expertise is badly needed and that requires hands-on experience at the grassroots level. If the Commission wants Member States to assume responsibilities it needs also to show that it is itself responsible and committed and that can not be done just with words or badly thought small funding.

We urge the Commission to:

  • React strongly on Anti-Gypsyist events, such as those in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, -we believe that the President of the European Commission needs to have a statement and not unknown spoke-person as it was the case up to now-;
  • Acknowledge the dangers of increased populism, extreme nationalism and dilution of minority rights in times of economical crisis;
  • Take firm measures that address the social exclusion of Roma in Europe with a clear focus on equal citizenship;
  • Use upcoming events, such as the EU Roma Platform meeting, to prepare a dedicated approach to curb anti-Gypsyism;
  • Create a Task Force on Anti-Gypsyism, composed out of experts, that will work together with the Commission on the measures to be taken;
  • Involve and support Roma Civil Society to feed-in to policy making and to enable them to become independent players in monitoring policies and addressing anti-Gypsyism tendencies;
  • Include benchmarks for measures to curb anti-Gypsyism and promoting equal citizenship in the EU Roma Framework and monitoring of the National Roma Strategies;

    Enforce the rule of law, condemning criminality, violence and abuses of human rights, and holding of groups responsible for the actions of individuals.

ERGO members.

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