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NGO Coalition Calls for EU Framework Strategy Against Roma Discrimination

BRUSSELS—A group of eight NGOs today launched the European Roma Policy Coalition (ERPC) to press the EU to take decisive action against Roma discrimination. In a meeting with Commissioner Spidla, the Coalition will express its concerns about the lack of coherent EU policies for Roma inclusion and present its recommendations for a more effective approach.

Roma are the largest minority group in Europe and yet the most disadvantaged one. An estimated 7-9 million Roma live in EU member states but to date there is no integrated and comprehensive EU policy specifically targeting discrimination against Roma. Commission officials have acknowledged that “social exclusion and discrimination of Roma communities are well documented and despite all available legislative and financial instruments remain often extreme.” However, such words have not been matched by effective action and change.

“Roma discrimination and social exclusion is a European problem that calls for a strong and coherent European response,” said David Mark, the coalition coordinator. “It is time the EU stops ignoring the human rights problems affecting so much of its population.”

The Coalition calls on the EU to adopt a Framework Strategy on Roma Inclusion, developed in full consultation with Roma communities and addressing three key objectives:

  • Accountability of national authorities for their duty to protect Roma from discrimination;
  • Equal access to education, healthcare and housing for Roma communities;
  • Empowerment of Roma through participation in the civic and economic life of the country.

This Framework Strategy should provide policy coherence to both mainstreaming and targeted actions against Roma discrimination, as well as create synergies with other European initiatives on Roma rights, in particular the Decade on Roma Inclusion 2005-15. It should include efficient monitoring and reporting mechanisms and improve transparency of EU initiatives in this area.

The European Roma Policy Coalition brings together national and international NGOs working on discrimination, human rights and social inclusion issues. They work with Roma communities in different countries and bring crucial field experience to the analysis of Roma discrimination. They are: Amnesty International (AI); European Network Against Racism (ENAR), European Roma Grassroots Organisation (ERGO), European Roma Information Office (ERIO), European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), Minority Rights Group International (MRGI); Open Society Institute (OSI) and Spolu International Foundation (SF).

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