More action needed to support Roma inclusion and combat anti-Gypsyism

On International Roma Day, FRA calls for greater efforts to combat discrimination and anti-Gypsyism and further the inclusion of Roma, Sinti, Traveller and other similar communities. The success (or failure) of Roma integration is a test of Europe’s ability to provide decent conditions for any vulnerable group.

“The persistent pattern of discrimination that Roma communities face and the sheer scale of this discrimination is a disgrace for Europe,” said FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty. “Roma have the same rights as us all to live in dignity, to work, to education, to decent housing and healthcare.”

Numerous studies demonstrate the high level of discrimination and hate crime faced by Roma throughout the EU. FRA surveys show that Roma are one of the most affected groups in the EU, with every second Roma reporting having been discriminated against over the year preceding the survey and a fifth having been victims of racist assault, threat or serious harassment. In the second half of 2016, FRA will publish Roma-related findings of the second round of its minorities survey, allowing for an analysis of trends over time and thus helping the EU and its Member States to better address this persistent blot on Europe’s landscape.

For the fundamental rights of Roma to become reality, local authorities need to wake up to their responsibilities. National-level legislative frameworks are a necessary but not sufficient precondition for combating racism and anti-Gypsyism. We also need commitment and action on the part of local government. Such action at local level should take place with the active engagement of Roma communities and Roma civil society organisations, so that decisions on Roma policy and integration measures are always taken with and not on behalf of the Roma.

In its efforts to support Roma integration, FRA has also ‘gone local’ and established the Local Engagement for Roma Inclusion (LERI) project, which seeks to identify key factors leading to the success or failure of Roma integration activities at the local level. After decades of failure of centralised measures, it is clear that efforts to change the situation cannot succeed without the local level. To be truly inclusive, Europe must include the Roma.