Why do we need an EU Roma Week?
The third EU Roma Week will take place in Brussels starting on 8th of April (International Roma Day) and continue until Thursday 12th April. The week will consist of a series of events organized and co-hosted by the European Parliament, the European Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Council of Europe, the City of Brussels, several Members of European Parliament (MEPs) from various political groups, the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI) and many civil society organisations.
Despite efforts at national, European and international level, persistent anti-Gypsyism can be detected throughout all of Europe and, however unconscious anti-Gypsyism might be in some cases, it can be revealed in the EU acquis, which often fails to take into consideration the realities and challenges of Roma, who, due to their having been subject to multiple discrimination for centuries, are unable to enjoy the same rights and opportunities, and the same level of protection provided by the EU acquis to other EU citizens.
Moreover, it is evident in the workings of the EU institutions, as numerous EU programmes and funds that could have a positive impact on the living conditions and life prospects of Roma do not reach them, or they symbolically designate the Roma as one of their beneficiaries, but do not take into account their realities and the discrimination they face.
Therefore, the events during EU Roma Week will provide recommendations on combatting anti-Gypsyism – the specific form of racism against Roma people. It will be an opportunity for experts, activists, and policymakers to strengthen the recognition of anti-Gypsyism as well as develop strategic and coherent responses.
Swedish Member of the European Parliament Soraya Post, S&D group’s spokesperson on Roma issues said: “Roma people have been neglected, discriminated against, stigmatised, excluded and dehumanised for 800 years. We are now slowly starting to improve the human rights situation of Roma people in Europe but we have a long way to go. I demand nothing more, but also nothing less, for the Roma people than I demand for the majority society. I want Roma people to be able to enjoy their fundamental rights in the EU and fulfil their full potential, just like anybody else.”
Hungarian Member of the European Parliament Benedek Jávor, Greens/EFA group said: “In spite of a lot of efforts, number of documents and money spent from EU sources, exclusion is still everyday reality for most of our Roma fellow-citizens throughout the EU. In some Member States we are simply not effective enough with our integration projects, in some others governments bring back shadows of the past declaring that integration is not possible. But we cannot give up our vision of a just, equal and inclusive Europe, based on fundamental rights and values. Together with Roma communities, activists and civil society we have to continue our work to make this dream come true. With the Roma Week we aim to celebrate together Roma culture as an important part of our colourful Europe, but also to point out the problems and shortcomings we have, to find better and better solutions.”