The European Parliament adopted a report warning of the risks of anti-Gypsyism promoted by extremists and calling for fresh efforts to integrate Roma through positive measures in housing, health, education and employment. Of the 12 to 15 million Roma living in Europe, about 10 million live in EU countries. The majority became EU citizens after the 2004 and 2007 enlargements. Yet MEPs believe Roma communities still suffer clear discrimination.
"Anti-Gypsyism or Romaphobia is still widespread in Europe and is promoted and used by extremists, which can culminate in racist attacks, hate speech, physical attacks, unlawful evictions and police harassment", warn MEPs in an own-initiative report adopted by 510 votes to 36, with 67 abstentions. The situation of European Roma communities is distinct from other national minorities, they say, arguing that this justifies specific measures at European level. Highlighting the "lack of progress made in combating racial discrimination against the Roma" in Europe, the resolution points out that, in the negotiation and accession process, all candidate countries committed to improving the inclusion of this community. It asks "the European Commission to make an assessment of the implementation of those commitments and of the current situation of the Roma in all EU Member States".
Parliament also maintains that "the Romani holocaust (Porajmos) deserves full recognition commensurate with the gravity of Nazi crimes" and, among many other measures, calls on the relevant authorities "to abolish the pig fattening industry on the former concentration camp in Lety (Czech Republic) and to create a memorial to honour the victims of persecution".
MEPs believe that "evidence of ghettoisation exist on a wide scale", with Roma regularly being either victims of forced evictions or prevented from moving out of such neighbourhoods. The Commission should therefore support active programmes to end Romani slums and provide housing for Roma citizens. Parliament also urged Member States to solve the problem of camps, "where there are no hygienic and safety standards at all and where a large number of Romani children die in domestic accidents, particularly fires".
Member States need to improve the health situation of Roma communities, say MEPs, and "remedy without delay the systemic exclusion" of certain Roma communities from health care. In addition, "extreme human rights abuses (...) including racial segregation in health facilities and coercive sterilisation of Romani women" must be ended.
Deploring the fact that segregation in education is still tolerated in the Member States, MEPs call on the Commission to look for new ways of tightening up anti-discrimination legislation in this field and to report back to the EP within one year. They believe positive action is needed in most areas of education and vocational training.
The Roma community also suffers "unacceptably high levels of unemployment", according to the resolution. The Commission is urged to support the integration of the Roma into the labour market through training, retraining and other measures, and also to consider granting micro-credits to Roma to help them start up small businesses.
While the EU and the Member States have crucial roles to play in key policy areas, MEPs also stress the need to involve local authorities in all active measures to integrate the Roma.
Measures within the European Commission
Lastly, MEPs urge the Commission to "shape a Community Action Plan on Roma Inclusion", to give one Commissioner "responsibility for coordinating a Roma policy" and "to promote Roma staff within its structure".
As the MEPs keep mentioning the Roma Community this can lead the reader of the document released by the European Parliament to believe that it is ONLY the Roma that are thus affected and not the like of Sinti and Cale who, and the EU will never understand that as long as those with a hidden agenda keep telling them that Sinti and Cale are but tribes of the Roma, are NOT Roma but Romani. While all Roma are Romani not all Romani are Roma.
I guess this is difficult to understand, and then again, we, the People, don't know what we are talking about as the Romani Institute and the Gypsy Union we told by officers of the EU and the Parliament. They know better than us that all Sinti and Cale are part of the Roma.
We must also remember that they know everything so well that they have included the Irish Travellers I amongst the tribes of the Roma.
Michael Smith (Veshengro), March 2008