Anti-Roma sentiment in EU needs tackling, says watchdog


A European human rights watchdog fears there is a lack of political will in some European Union countries to counter what it terms a new wave of anti-Roma feeling, a report on the Roma situation said on Wednesday.

"A new wave of anti-Roma sentiment seems to have emerged in certain Western European countries with media speculation on migration of Roma into Western Europe after the EU enlargement," said Alvaro Gil-Robles, commissioner for human rights at the Council of Europe.

"Roma populations face considerable obstacles to the full enjoyment of their fundamental rights," said the report written after a tour of inspection conducted to investigate human rights for Roma, Sinti and Travellers in Europe.

"It is specifically disturbing to see that concrete development at the local level has been insufficient," said Gil-Robles, adding "a real lack of political will" was the root cause of the current situation.

The report suggested active partnerships to overcome discrimination against the ten million strong Roma community in Europe so as to improve healthcare, housing, education and employment prospects.

Eight European countries -- the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakiamembers since 2004), Bulgaria and Romania (EU candidates) and Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia and Montenegro (who want to join the EU) launched a Roma integration initiative in February with the help of the World Bank.

Many of those countries are considered the worst places for discrimination against Roma, otherwise known as gypsies.

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