Many Roma across the EU continue to face racism and discrimination and are often socially excluded and marginalised.
Recent survey findings by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) show that one in three Roma surveyed are unemployed, 90% are at risk of poverty, and 60% have experienced discrimination when looking for work.
Today, on International Roma Day, FRA urges policy makers throughout the EU to ensure that implementation of national strategies for Roma integration make tangible improvements to the opportunities they are afforded and the enjoyment of their fundamental rights. Roma across the EU must have equal access to education, employment, healthcare and housing – all areas in which FRA’s survey results show that equal access has not yet been achieved. In the face of violence against Roma, law enforcement agencies and criminal justice systems must be attentive to any indication of racist motivation when investigating and prosecuting such incidents.
The European Commission has established an EU Framework for Roma Integration, and is closely following the implementation of national integration strategies. FRA’s Roma Programme contributes to and supports these efforts.
However, as FRA Director Morten Kjaerum stressed: "Member States have presented their national strategies. However, they also need to ensure that these are effective not only in addressing poverty and marginalisation, but also in tackling the widespread prejudice, discrimination and racist attacks against Roma. This is particularly important in the development of local action plans, because the Roma issue is not ‘simply’ an issue of poverty. It is about the fundamental right to live free from discrimination and be treated with the same respect accorded to all other EU citizens."
This year, FRA will publish further reports based on its Roma survey that analyse specific areas, such as education, health, poverty and housing.
International Roma Day does not only aim to raise awareness about the difficulties Roma face, but reminds everyone of the diversity of the societies in which we live. It is a day on which we celebrate Romani culture and its contribution to culture, music, and the arts in Europe and beyond.
On the occasion of International Roma Day, FRA Director Morten Kjaerum held a speech at a conference on Roma issues at Harvard University entitled 'Realizing Roma rights: addressing violence, discrimination and segregation in Europe'.