12th European Platform for Roma Inclusion Health and housing inequalities

12th European Platform for Roma Inclusion Health and housing inequalities

From 8-9 October 2018 the 12th European Platform for Roma inclusion took place in Brussels with a special focus on health and housing inequalities faced by Roma people. The annual platform is organised by the Roma coordination unit of the European Commission Directorate General for Justice and Consumers, in consultation with Roma and pro-Roma civil society. It brings together civil society, experts, national governments, European institutions and Roma people from local level who are experts in the field of health and housing.

Health and housing are two out of the four key priorities of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies.

The event started on 8 October with the opening panel, followed by a theatre performance given by Ara Art “And Again we slept Pindral”. The play took the audience through the history of Roma culture and music through storytelling.  

On the second day two political panels and two workshops on housing inequalities and health focused on identifying challenges that are drivers of social exclusion.  ERGO Network’s Director Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova facilitated the workshop on social housing and ERGO’s policy and research coordinator Jelena Jovanovic was the rapporteur that brought the key messages from the workshop to the political panel.

In the political panel Vera Jourova, Commissioner for Fundamental Justice, stated: “I want to evaluate in depth the EU Framework for National Integration Strategies and to focus on smart EU funding for the next programming period”. Equal treatment of Roma and mainstreaming of Roma inclusion are the key priorities of the European Agenda and post 2020 programs.

The general messages that were pointed out by the participants:

Health

    • The EU and Member States should use human rights approaches when developing health policies, and Roma health policies in particular.
    • European Commission should consider earmarking funding for EU-wide advocacy coalitions and strategic/impact litigation that aims at identifying structural deficiencies and discrimination potential of member states’ legislation, when it comes to Roma.

  • Developing and reinforcing measures effectively targeting antigypsyism and discrimination against Roma.

Housing

  • Poor data: Mapping of the situation of Roma in housing; demolitions are often ongoing and nobody knows how many people are affected by the situation.
  • Antigypsyism: should be tackled with mainstream and targeted approaches with reinforced measures.
  • Harmful initiatives/bad investments: political will has to be increased and the knowledge of the responsible actors improved.
  • Lack of awareness of ‘mainstream’ measures: Relevant EU policies have not been yet mainstreamed at the national level. One of the needs identified during the workshop is raising awareness  and implementation at national level of the European Pillar of Social Rights and specifically of Principle 19 (that includes three relevant issues – social housing, forced evictions and homelessness)

The participants repeated their call from the Platform 2017 for the importance of empowerment and involvement of Roma in decision-making by ensuring Roma participation in every phase of the policy cycle (design, implementation, coordination, monitoring and evaluation, review), including at local level.

Fighting antigypsyism in the spotlight of the 2018 Fundamental Rights Forum in Vienna

Fighting antigypsyism in the spotlight of the 2018 Fundamental Rights Forum in Vienna

At this year’s Fundamental Rights Forum of the Fundamental Rights Agency on 26 September in Vienna, ERGO Network together with its partners in the Alliance against Antigypsyism and the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI) held a session “Addressing antigypsyism: new strategies to ensure fundamental rights of Roma in Europe”.

The session explored new strategies to address persistent antigypsyism in our societies and raised awareness of the need to change the discourse on Roma inclusion and ensure fundamental rights for Roma in Europe. Through inputs of Mirjam Karoly (Romano Centro) and presentations of Adriatik Hasantari (Roma Active Albania), Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova (ERGO Network), Michael Privot (European Network against Racism), Jonathan Mack (Central Council of German Sinti and Roma), Rita Fober (assistant MEP Soraya Post) and many others, three key messages were communicated with the participants:

  1. Antigypsyism is the main cause of Roma exclusion. It is a specific form of racism towards Roma, Sinti and other groups that the majority society perceive as ‘gypsies’ and there is a high level of acceptance of this phenomenon.
  2. Recognition of antigypsyism is partial, even though it manifests itself frequently and takes many shapes: hate-speech in public, media and political narratives, hate-crime, discrimination in schools, by employers and employment services, health institutions, housing authorities, etc.
  3. Antigypsyism is also present in the EU enlargement region, where it is neither recognized nor properly addressed. Roma integration strategies in this region tend to remain ‘paper oriented’ and are not systematically implemented.

One of the conclusions of the session was that for the fundamental rights of Roma to be achieved, it is important to 1) change the public and political discourse on Roma: from Roma inclusion to combatting antigypsyism; 2) strengthen alliances and 3) have concrete targeted measures in place as well as committed institutions, political will and funding to mainstream the fight against antigypsyism into relevant policies, such as National Action Plans against Racism.

Moreover, recognition of antigypsyism by relevant stakeholders as well as the public is urgent and it should be reflected in functional responsible institutions as well as in creating new structures, such as Truth and Reconciliation Commissions for combatting antigypsyism at both EU and Member States level. Institutions need to monitor, record and report acts on antigypsyism; make sure that budgets are not discriminatory; that Roma are employed, including Roma youth; that Roma participate in public and political life; enjoy access to justice; that there is no segregation, etc.

Finally, fighting antigypsyism should go beyond the EU. Work has to be done in the enlargement region as well, focusing on recognizing, preventing, monitoring, reporting, and responding properly to acts of antigypsyism by implementing relevant policies and legislation.

The Director of ENAR, Michael Privot sent a strong message to participants that “we have to be specific in our fight” and to call the problem by its name so it can be properly tackled and explained that Roma participation is an important element of an organization’s strategy.

The Alliance against Antigypsyism has been confirmed as a strong group of advocates coming from different backgrounds. In addition, this year’s Fundamental Rights Forum invited Roma youth representatives from Austria, Hungary, France, Romania, Spain and Slovakia, who attended different sessions of the Forum and enriched the knowledge of a wide range of participants regarding the topics such as housing, education and pop culture narratives.

Diversity in the European Union – The case of Roma in Europe

On the occasion of the Austrian EU Presidency Romano Centro in co-operation with European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network and the House of the European Union in Vienna invites  you to a panel discussion  Diversity in the European Union – The case of Roma in Europe. The event takes place on Thursday, November 8th at 6.30 p.m.

Roma are the largest ethnic minority in Europe. As a result of century-old antigypsyism in mainstream society Roma women and men are disproportionately affected by racism and discrimination, poverty and social exclusion. In order to improve the living situation of Roma women and men and to provide equal opportunities and rights to all EU citizens, in 2011 the European Commission adopted the Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020 (EU Roma Framework) that obliges all EU Member States to develop and implement national strategies for Roma in the fields of education, employment, housing and health. Since then EU Member States have set national goals and committed financial resources to foster social inclusion and anti-discrimination of respective Roma populations.

At the same time, in recent years we witness a rise of populist and right wing groups and political parties in Europe – inside and outside the EU – and public discourse scapegoating migrants, refugees, faith com- munities and other minorities such as Roma. These groups are made responsible for social problems and become target of populist hate speech and hate crimes.

The recent violent attacks against Roma, for example the stabbing of a Roma man in Ukraine, the killing of a young Roma girl in Greece this June, the racist attack against a Roma man in Slovakia, or the anti-Roma rhetoric of the Italian Minister of Interior Salvini, who announced a census and deportation of Roma migrants, are only few examples of this t trend.

Two years before concluding the EU Roma Strategy in 2020 and in the middle of deliberations on the next EU programming period 2020-2027, we take the opportunity of the Austrian EU Presidency to look at the results so far and the challenges encountered, and to discuss how widespread antigypsyism obstructs the achievement of equal rights and opportunities for Roma in Europe.

Please register at office@romano-centro.org.

 

Click here to see the full invitation and speakers list.

Minimum Standards for Minorities in the EU

On Monday 3 September 2018, the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) held a mini-hearing on minimum standards for minorities in the EU. The respect for the rights of persons belonging to minorities is one of the EU’s founding principles and the effective protection of minorities across the EU needs to be strengthened.

ERGO Network Executive Director Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova was one of the experts invited to the hearing to give input to the Committee’s report on the topic.  She pointed out that Roma and other minorities enrich the diverse cultural heritage of the EU; the protection of their rights, however, is currently not ensured. EU Member States have different definitions for minorities and apply different standards for their protection. There is a need for a common understanding and definitions, but also for ensuring the protection of minorities especially against discrimination and any forms of racism.

The Roma Civil Monitor, a project issuing civil society shadow reports on National Roma Integration Strategies in 27 EU member states, shows that even where Roma are recognised as minority, respect of their rights is still lacking or the minority status is only granted for ‘autochthonous’ Roma and not those of migratory background.

ERGO Network believes that the lives of minorities in every country are fragile; the policy frameworks on minorities are depending on political will and societal climate.  For Roma the situation is even more difficult, as there is no home country standing behind them to support the growth of their cultural heritage and language or to ensure the full recognition and protection of their rights. The European Union is the safeguard that brings hope to many.

Minimum standards for minorities should ensure rights to both ethnic and national minorities. They should also pay attention to intersectionality, especially when it comes to discrimination of LGBTI and people with disabilities.

During the hearing, Gabriela Hrabanova furthermore expressed the importance of addressing antigypsyism as core problem for the exclusion of Roma. “Antigypsyism is not explicitly recognized in the relevant policy and legislative documents and antigypsyist crimes are often not seen as such by the responsible institutions”, says Hrabanova. As stated in the European Parliament Resolution on fighting Anti-Gypsyism from 2015 and in the LIBE Committee Report on Anti-gypsyism from 2017 the situation of Roma is worsening and there is a need for urgent action to ensure the remedy of the centuries’ long discrimination and marginalization.

Member states should take both proactive and reactive measures to safeguard equal access of members of minority groups to services, goods, information, etc. and to provide mandatory trainings to duty-bearers.

But importantly, there will be no achievement without real and systemic consultations of minority groups at local, regional and national level to prepare, run, monitor and evaluate both minority specific and mainstream programmes in order to ensure their inclusiveness and non-discrimination.

2017 ERGO Network Annual Report

2017 ERGO Network Annual Report

ERGO Network’s annual report for 2017 is now available. Read the  2017 ERGO Annual Report and learn how ERGO Network and  its members introduced and pursued numerous initiatives to fight antigypsyism and to empower Roma in 2017. In addition the annual report 2017 presents the initiatives undertaken by ERGO to ensure networking between, and capacity building of member organisations. The report contains relevant information and graphs on the achievements and progress made to strengthen the Roma community. ERGO Network will definitely keep the wheel rolling to support the implementation of more and better measures for Roma.

Read the  2017 ERGO Annual Report