EU Commissioners on 8 April: Europe has a long way to go to achieve real equality for Romani people

EU flags in front of the European Commission building in Brussels (PHOTO: Sébastien Bertrand, Wikimedia commons)

Romani people continue to face prejudice, discrimination, antigypsyism and socioeconomic exclusion in their daily lives. According to a joint statement on the occasion of International Romani Day by the European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Vĕra Jourová, the Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli and the Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi, it is necessary to do everything possible for Romani people to experience an actual change to that situation. 

“On the occasion of International Romani Day we are celebrating, together with Europe’s largest ethnic minority, their unique contribution to European diversity and heritage. At the same time we are commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first World Roma Congress,” the commissioners said in their joint statement.

“Many Romani people still face prejudice, discrimination, antigypsyism and socioeconomic exclusion in their daily lives, however. The Romani community, moreover, has been harshly affected by the global pandemic. We must do everything in our power to address the current crisis and everything else that has impacted them so Romani people can experience actual change,” the commissioners have declared. 

According to the officials, the European Commission has adopted its ambitious EU Roma Strategic Framework for that purpose – a new, 10-year plan for achieving equality of Romani people within the European Union and beyond it. The framework contains a comprehensive list of measures to combat antigypsyism and discrimination, to support equality and social inclusion, to involve Romani people in the life of society and to arrange for their equal access to quality, standard education, employment, health care and housing throughout Europe.

“On the basis of this Strategic Framework, the EU Member States have unanimously adopted the Recommendation on Roma equality, inclusion and participation. A strong, clear signal has therefore been sent that the Member States are determined to address the many challenges that the Romani community faces EU-wide. With regard to countries beyond the EU, that document is playing a crucial role in the accession negotiations with states in the Western Balkans” added Jourová, Dalli and Várhelyi. 

According to the European Commission, the commitment of the Member States is essential to achieving stable outcomes on this issue during the next decade. “Europe has a long road ahead of us when it comes to achieving real equality for Romani people, respect for diversity, and mutual understanding of our historical experiences. By working together, we can change this situation and make use of the enormous potential of Romani people to benefit not just themselves, but all of Europe,” added the three commissioners at the close of their statement. 

On 8 April, Romani people worldwide celebrate International Romani Day. This year is the 50th anniversary of the significant day when the historically first World Roma Congress was held in Orpington near London in the United Kingdom in 1971.

The congress laid the foundations for international collaborations of Romani people and the Romani movement acquired its international sociopolitical dimension on that occasion. Romani people annually commemorate their shared culture, language, origin, their common collaborations and unification, and above all their Romipen (“Romani-ness”).

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