International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Statement

Anti-Discrimination-Day Statement

Each year, the world commemorates the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March, the day the police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “pass laws” in 1960.

One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies, as an anti-racist.

A specific form of racism is antigypsyism, which is directed towards Roma, Sinti, Travellers, and others who are stigmatized as ‘gypsies’ in the public imagination. We Roma fight racism every day – today is just another day in our lives.

Since last year, the increased visibility of the Black Lives Matter movement has put a spotlight on the outrageous levels of racism around the world.  The Coronavirus crisis redoubled structural racism and health inequalities during  the epidemic and continues to disproportionately impact the lives of Roma people and other racialized minorities across Europe.

Structural racism and discrimination against ethnic and racialised minorities are deeply rooted in European societies. Across the EU, we face widespread and entrenched prejudice and exclusion. Racial discrimination and harassment are commonplace for us.

Hate speech, hate crime, segregation, structural and systemic exclusion and discrimination of Roma people, including segregation of Roma children in schools, discrimination in the housing sector, access to healthcare and employment persists in many EU Member States, Neighborhood and Enlargement countries.

On 18 September 2020, the European Commission adopted the first EU Anti-Racism Action Plan 2020-2025 that promises a series of measures to tackle racism and racial discrimination, covering a broad string of policy areas.

ERGO Network, together with our members and partners, are actively observing the implementation of the plan in order to ensure that anti-Roma discrimination is also covered in the scope of the EU anti-racism agenda.

Here are some of our recommendations to the EU institutions and Member States:

  • Finally adopt the 10-year old draft of the Horizontal Anti-discrimination Directive.
  • Systematically record and publish disaggregated data on hate crime
  • Fully transpose and apply the provisions of the Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia, treating racist and xenophobic motivation as an aggravating circumstance
  • Reform internal policies and working methods in order to ensure a fair representation of minority populations within EU institutions as well as an adequate participation and consultation of minority groups in EU decisions in policies, programmes and funding
  • Commit to an ambitious, comprehensive, and binding EU Strategic Framework for Roma to achieve equality, social and economic justice, and combat antigypsyism.
  • Ensure equitable access to quality inclusive education for all children and invest consistently in raising awareness and adequately teach European societies about their colonial and racist past, including the history of antigypsyism.
  • Define segregation as illegal in housing and in education.
  • Address discrimination of minority groups in employment.
  • Take into account the needs of racialised minorities and define them as a priority in all mainstream policies and measures of the Covid-19 recovery plan; meaningfully involve Roma stakeholders and their civil society organisations in the design, implementation, and monitoring of such recovery plans.
  • Ensure funding for equality and fundamental rights of minority groups under the Multi-Annual Framework.



Damian Draghici, Romanian Member of the European Parliament in the Socialists and Democrats Group gathered some of the most outstanding antigypsyism experts at the European Parliament on the occasion of the Human Rights Day on 7 December 2016.

Damian, a Roma musician from Romania who has been a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) in Brussels since 2014, invited participants from all over Europe to discuss the “lost cause of antigypsyism”.

Each attendee demonstrated a substantial experience of Roma rights activism. They have now been gathered by Damian Draghici MEP to contemplate about changes to make to save the lost cause of Roma integration.

Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova, Deputy Director of ERGO Network delivered a speech in which she pointed out the deficiencies of the Roma Inclusion agenda. Gabriela shared the shocking reality of 600 Roma people, including 200 Roma children, who were evicted in the outskirts of Paris while the meeting was going on in Brussels. She also elaborated briefly on the reference paper on antigypsyism drafted by ERGO Network’s antigypsyism experts.

Jamen also added that saying the word ‘Gypsy’ has no moral stigma to it, therefore abusers would come from all ages and genders across all layers of society.

Participants acknowledged that antigypsyism is a specific form of racism towards Roma and Sinti who get stigmatized as Gypsies in the public imagination. Soraya Post, Roma MEP from Sweden highlighted that the term antigypsyism should always be applied when communicating about Roma inclusion instead of discrimination.

The audience was astonished to hear the results of the campaigns run in Romania to tackle antigypsyism in football. Valeriue Nicolae, new special representative of the secretary general at the Council of Europe also shared that he is building an international alliance to export results of the football campaigns run in Romania. He also elaborated on the involvement of Damian Draghici as musician primarily and not just as MEP to inspire Roma youth in Romania. Valeriu thanked Damian for the life making changes he achieved in the life of children through his contribution.

Peter Niedermuller, Hungarian MEP from the Socialists and Democrats Group emphasized that we need to tackle antigypgyism in the national and international authorities as well as antigypgyism is present everywhere.

Andrej Ivanov, statistics expert working as PhD Head of Sector on Rom and Migrant Integration at the Fundamental Rights Agency presented the EU-MIDIS report from FRA.  As a reflection to the report he mentioned that there are several tools and resources already available for Roma however the information hardly reaches them and they rarely end up accessing opportunities.

Irina Spataru and Laszlo Jakab represented the Roma youth at the event and they both encountered of a rather harsh reality from Roma youth all over Europe.