14th European Platform for Roma Inclusion
The European Platform for Roma Inclusion 2021 was held online on 21-22 September by the Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers. The meeting aimed to reaffirm the commitment to Roma equality, inclusion and participation of European institutions and Member States and focus on key thematic areas identified in close consultation with civil society organisation, such as Mainstreaming and Targeted Policies to Address Antigypsyism in National Roma Strategic Frameworks and Tackling unequal access to education to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Roma communities.
The event was honoured with high level participation on the part of the European Commission, including through a video message – partly in Romanes – by President Ursula von der Leyen, the European Parliament and EU Member States. Roma and pro-Roma civil society were given center stage in the thematic workshops and had an equal floor during the political panels alongside political leaders.
The thematic workshop ‘Assessing the National Roma Strategic Frameworks: Mainstreaming and Targeted Policies to Address Antigypsyism” discussed how measures on health, education, housing, and employment, access to justice, child protection and environment are addressed from the perspective of combating antigypsyism and what specific actions are being developed at the national and local level for addressing antigypsyism. Finally, the panel also addressed how structural funds in Member States and enlargement countries can better contribute to Roma equality, inclusion, and participation.
The thematic workshop “Mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Roma communities: tackling unequal access to education and spatial segregation” discussed how access to quality and inclusive education of Roma students, specifically from marginalised localities, can be improved in the persisting pandemic and how to ensure that implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plans reaches marginalised Roma communities.
Gabriela Hrabanova, ERGO Network Director, delivered important key messages to the attendees. She strongly expressed the need for national governments to demonstrate that the fight against antigyspsyism in their countries does not remain a “buzz” word. She asked Member States to start making amends with their historic past by investing in real recounts about the Roma Holocaust, slavery, forced sterilization and many other dehumanising events in Europe’s history. Member States have a responsibility to help us reconcile as nations, learn about who Roma really are, provide the tools for our children to love each other and live together in a sense of unity, not division.
She highlighted that “we first need to reconcile parts of us that hurt most and that manifest still today in very aggressive and punitive ways, such as police violence or forced sterilisation, if we want to change the general negative perception and knowledge about Roma among European citizens”. She called on Member States to ensure that national strategic frameworks meet the expectations of combating segregation in education and housing, increased police violence against Roma, addressing hate speech and hate crime against Roma and to make sure that EU funds for social cohesion and recovery and resilience together with direct grants by the EU and national funding are used to address the major challenges identified in national Roma strategies. In the end of her speech, the ERGO Director called for a “Decade of fighting antigypsyism”.
The report with the final conclusions of the meeting will be published by the European Commission on their event website here