Fundamental Rights Forum 2021

Fundamental Rights Forum 2021: Monitoring, preventing and countering antigypsyism

Every year, the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency invites policy-makers, civil society and other stakeholders to the “Fundamental Rights Forum”, as a space for dialogue on human rights challenges facing the EU today.

At this year’s edition of the Forum on 11-12 October 2021, ERGO Network together with the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma hosted a session to examine how antigypsyism can be effectively monitored, prevented and countered under the national Roma strategic frameworks both as a horizontal and stand-alone priority. Under the new EU Roma Strategic Framework 2021-2030, national governments are expected to develop mechanisms for reporting, monitoring and evaluation of progress on Roma equality, inclusion and participation towards set targets, including by improving data collection and setting Roma indicators.

The panellists discussed the role of the European Commission, the Fundamental Rights Agency, Equality Bodies and civil society in this regard and shed light on the challenges of effectively monitoring antigypsyism in the EU Member States, as well as enlargement countries. Panellists included Bernard Rorke (European Roma Rights Centre), Angelika Grabher-Wusche (Fundamental Rights Agency), Tamas Kadar (Equinet) and Markus End (Adviser, Germany) who discussed with Guillermo Ruiz (Central Council for German Sinti and Roma) and Isabela Mihalache (ERGO Network).

The experts expressed in particular the need for a shift of data collection from individual incidents and perceptions of discrimination to monitoring structural and institutional antigypsyism. Even though antigypsyism is increasingly recognised by policy-makers, all panellists agreed that in EU Member States and enlargement countries there is still a significant lack of political will, especially when it comes to addressing structural racism. Data collection as is an valuable tool to show policy-makers where action is needed. The speakers agreed that during the past years, the Fundamental Rights Agency has collected clear evidence of antigypsyism for policy-makers and derived positive conclusions and recommendations, but that this data alone does not change anything when Member States do not start to act, and can even be abused when interpreted wrongfully.

Finally, the important role of civil society in monitoring the implementation of National Roma Strategies was discussed. While civil society participation was clearly lacking in developing the national strategies, the new cycle of the Roma Civil Monitoring project will give civil society the opportunity to closely monitor its implementation.

Isabela Mihalache, Senior Policy Officer of ERGO Network, concluded the event with the call to better mainstream the fight against antigypsyism within the bigger framework of the EU Anti-Racism Action Plan. Fighting together with other racialised minorities will create synergies and help to combat structural antigypsyism.