Roma rights organisations respond to EU inclusion plans

Brussels, 6 December 2018: Today, a coalition of more than fifteen Romani and anti-racism civil society organisations from across Europe called for the Council of the European Union, and governments of European countries, to make a clear commitment to the new proposals for post-2020 Roma inclusion plans made by the European Commission in its communication to the European Parliament and Council yesterday.

Director of ERGO Network Ms Gabriela Hrabanova welcomed the new Communication: “The Commission and Parliament have clearly positioned themselves for a continued investment in Roma Inclusion after 2020. Now is the time for national governments to do the same, to strengthen their fight against antigypsyism and to update and improve their strategies in line with community needs by working alongside Romani civil society.”

The new communication from the Commission highlighted key elements to improve the EU Roma Framework including: the need for inclusion of Roma in mainstream policies, fighting antigypsyism, improving Roma participation, addressing the diversity amongst Roma, and better data collection, target indicators and reporting in integration strategies.

“Until now, Roma Inclusion plans in EU member states and accession countries have failed to include measures to fight antigypsyism, and have largely failed to significantly improve the situation for Roma across Europe” said Ðorđe Jovanović, President of the European Roma Rights Centre. “The EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies after 2020 must serve to counter the effects of the specific structural racism which affects Romani populations throughout Europe.”

The organisations explicitly call for measures in European countries to recognize present and historical antigypsyism as a form of racism; counter and sanction manifestations of antigypsyism in public discourses, public services and institutions; empower civil society, and ensure that the necessary legal and institutional mechanisms are in place and implemented to prosecute hate crimes and hate speech. It is time for European governments to give priority to “reinforcing and distinguishing the focus on antigypsyism as a root cause of Roma exclusion” as concluded by the EU High Level Group on Combatting Racism, Xenophobia and Other Forms of Intolerance in their guidance paper on antigypsyism.

European institutions have to make sure that the next EU budget cycle (Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027), which is currently under negotiation, is connected to policy priorities of the EU Roma Framework including the fight against antigypsyism. In addition, partnership agreements with Member States and operational programs must explicitly name Roma as an investment priority. The next cycle of funding must ensure that funds are also available for specific measures to fight antigypsyism, and to allow the efficient operation of civil society organisations to hold governments accountable and to ensure fundamental rights of Romani citizens across Europe.

For more information, or to arrange an interview contact:

Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova
Executive Director
ERGO Network
info@ergonetwork.org
+32(0)2 893 10 49

The coalition of organisations includes:

Alliance against Antigypsyism
Central Council of German Sinti & Roma
European Network against Racism
European Public Health Alliance
European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network
European Roma Rights Centre
FAGiC Federación de Asociaciones Gitanas de Cataluña
Jaw Dikh Foundation
La Voix de Roms
Nakeramos
Nevo Parudimos
Roma Active Albania
Romanipe
Roma Education Fund
RROMA Regional Roma Educational Youth Association (Macedonia)

Notes for editors:

The EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies was adopted by the European Commission in 2011. It requires member states make provision to address inequalities in their countries which Roma face in education, employment, healthcare, and housing.

Antigypsyism is the specific racism towards Roma, Sinti, Travellers and others who are stigmatized as ‘gypsies’ in the public imagination. The term is often used in a narrow sense to indicate anti-Roma attitudes or the expression of negative stereotypes in the public sphere or hate speech. However, antigypsyism gives rise to a much wider spectrum of discriminatory expressions and practices, including many implicit or hidden manifestations. More information is available in the reference paper on antigypsyism.

The Alliance against Antigypsyism demands clear commitment of European Parliament President Tajani against antigypsyism  

                                

 

PRESS RELEASE

Brussels, 29 October 2018

The Alliance against Antigypsyism demands clear commitment of European Parliament President Tajani against antigypsyism

 

Brussels, 29 October 2018 – European Parliament President Antonio Tajani criticised the Italian government’s plan for a citizenship income in an interview on Italian public broadcaster RAI earlier this week, and said that “the citizenship income will end up in the pockets of Roma, of foreign citizens — from the EU and non-EU — and certainly not in those of many Italian citizens.”

The Alliance against Antigypsyism criticizes that such statements fuel antigypsyism in the public discourse, and demands a clear commitment of European Parliament President Tajani against antigypsyism.

Romani Rose, Chair of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, said: “The statement of Parliament’s President Tajani confirms how deep-rooted antigypsyist stereotypes are in European societies and institutions. Even unconscious linguistic images often lead to the exclusion of minorities and consolidate antigypsyism in society. In 2015, the European Parliament recognized the Holocaust against the 500,000 Sinti and Roma in Nazi-occupied Europe and adopted a clear strategy to combat antigypsyism in its October 2017 resolution. Political leaders and representatives have an important responsibility for the cohesion of our society. Therefore, it would be a sign of political responsibility that President Tajani proclaims unequivocally the fight against antigypsyism as a constitutional and democratic task.”

Gabriela Hrabanova, Director of the European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network, underlined: “Mr Tajani’s narrative is a reflection of antigypsyism as the norm in the political discourse. This is especially dangerous ahead of the EP elections and elections at the national and local level. It is a contradiction that the EP asks Member States to implement the Framework Decision, transpose and enforce the Racial Equality Directive, and most recently calls on Member States to ban neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups, while it keeps othering Roma who have been European citizens for centuries. These kinds of statements also undermine ongoing work at EU level on fighting antigypsyism.”

Michaël Privot, Director of the European Network Against Racism, said: “Mr. Tajani’s racist comment just shows how mainstream politicians can legitimise racist and xenophobic discourses put forward by far-right and neo-fascist groups instead of rejecting them. It is high-time that the European Parliament’s President tackles racist speech both within and outside his own house. This means both taking disciplinary measures against Members of the European Parliament who use hate speech against Roma and other minorities and initiating public condemnation of hate speech in Member States.”

Although some members of the European Parliament denounced the comments and demanded a public apology, the leadership of the European People’s Party, of which Mr Tajani is a member, did not condemn the statement and Mr Tajani has to date not publicly apologised.

 For further information, contact:

 

ERGO Network: Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova, Executive Director, g.hrabanova@ergonetwork.org

Tel: +32(0)2 893 10 49

Central Council of German Sinti and Roma: Jonathan Mack, Policy Officer, jonathan.mack@sintiundroma.de

Tel: +49 (0) 6221 981101

European Network Against Racism (ENAR): Georgina Siklossy, Senior Communication and Press Officer, georgina@enar-eu.org

Tel: +32 (0)2 229 35 70 – Mobile: +32 (0)473 490 531

 

 Notes to the editor:

 

  1. The ‘Alliance against Antigypsyism’ is a coalition of organisations that promote equality of rights for Roma and combat antigypsyism on institutional and societal level. The aim of the Alliance is to advance understanding of antigypsyism as a specific form of racism, and to strengthen the political will and institutional mechanisms in order to tackle antigypsyism in Europe. The Alliance is coordinated by the European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network, the European Network against Racism (ENAR) and the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma.
  2. European Parliament resolution of 25 October 2018 on the rise of neo-fascist violence in Europe (2018/2869(RSP)),http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P8-TA-2018-0428+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN

Registration: Conference & ERGO Network’s 10 Years Anniversary Party

                                  Conference & ERGO Network 10 Years Anniversary Party

  Register here by 26 November 2018

ERGO Network has been working actively to use bottom-up and partnership-based approaches such as Community-Led Local Development to engage Roma people more actively in shaping the future of their local communities. Involving Roma themselves in the development, implementation and evaluation of programmes creates trust between authorities and Roma, contributes to more effective needs-based approaches and avoids misuse of funds.

At ERGO Network’s Conference, we will discuss the potential of local partnerships between Roma communities and other stakeholders and give recommendations from the Roma grassroots level on how to strengthen local partnerships through the next EU programming period.

Download the concept note and agenda here.

The conference will be followed by ERGO Network’s 10 years anniversary celebration, with food, bubbles and Roma live music!!

The European Pillar of Social Rights and European Semester as tools for delivering Social Europe

The European Pillar of Social Rights and European Semester as tools for delivering Social Europe  

On 2 October, the European Commission’s DG Employment together with the European Centre of Expertise (ECE) in the field of Labour Law, Employment and Labour Market Policies organised a reflection with civil society on the European Pillar of Social Rights and the European Semester.

Through ERGO Network’s Annual Work Programme RISE (Roma Included in Social Europe), ERGO Network closely follows the European Semester process as a possible tool to foster the social inclusion and poverty reduction of Roma in the EU, with a special focus on the five countries with the highest Roma population  – Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic.

ERGO Network Director Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova presented ERGO’s work in this area and pointed out the great discrepancies between the poor living situation of Roma in these countries and the attention Roma inclusion receives in the European Semester. Czech Republic, for example, is under the infringement procedure for segregation of Roma children in education, while this topic is not anymore included in the Czech country-specific recommendations.  Also Roma employment is not found among the CSRs in any of our target countries, even though Roma unemployment – and particularly youth unemployment – remains extremely high. Around 64% of Roma aged 16 to 24 are not in education, employment and training according to research by the Fundamental Rights Agency – a fact that should be reflected in the European Semester and the European Pillar of Social Rights, but that does not attract any special attention in mainstream EU policies.

ERGO Network chair Stano Daniel and ERGO Network member Katalin Nagy added insights from the Roma grassroots in Hungary and Slovakia to the discussion in order to stress the importance of mainstreaming Roma inclusion in European policies, if the EU really wants to deliver on a Social Europe.

TRANSITION FROM EDUCATION TO EMPLOYMENT FOR ROMA YOUTH – A Key step in Roma Inclusion

TRANSITION FROM EDUCATION TO EMPLOYMENT FOR ROMA YOUTH – A Key step in Roma Inclusion

 

On 25-26 September, ERGO Network policy officer Carmen Tanasie took part in an international expert Seminar of the Council of Europe Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Roma and Traveller Issues (CAHROM), focusing on the transition from education to employment for Roma youth.

Despite the efforts to expand and improve education for Roma children over the years, as many as 50% of Roma children in Europe fail to complete primary education and only a quarter complete secondary education. Participation in education drops considerably after compulsory education where only 15% of young Roma adults have completed upper-secondary general or vocational education. Without compulsory education completion, many young Roma are unable to meet the basic requirements for vocational education programmes and therefore to find employment. On average 63% of Roma aged 16 to 24 are consequently not in work, education or further training, and 72% of Roma women.  

This year’s expert seminar under the Croatian Presidency of the Council of Europe followed up on the recommendations brought forward by the 4th meeting of the Council of Europe Dialogue with Roma and Traveller civil society of 2017, with a focus on vocational education and training. The different panels discussed, among others, second chance educational programmes for school drop-outs, social enterprises as an opportunity for young Roma and travellers, certification of professional skills and reach out of EU programmes for NEEET towards Roma.

Carmen Tanasie presented ERGO Network’s research on Roma youth employment ‘What work(s) for Roma, with a special focus on discussing the question: How successful is the “Youth Guarantee” programme in reaching and creating meaningful opportunities for young Roma? ERGO’s research has shown that most young Roma have never heard of the Youth Guarantee, and  are not offered meaningful options for further education or training by the Public Employment Services. She brought forward ERGO’s recommendations on better targeting of the Youth Guarantee towards those hardest to reach so that young Roma can also benefit from EU programmes.

More information on ERGO’s youth employment work: http://ergonetwork.org/our-work/monitoring/youth-employment/