On the occasion of International Roma Day on 8 April, Vice-President Vĕra Jourová and Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli issued the following statement:
“We are in extraordinary times of a global crisis. We see examples of beautiful solidarity, where people come together to help one another, but we also see those who use the situation to spread fear, anger and hate – often targeting the most vulnerable and already heavily discriminated groups, such as Roma people.
This day should serve as a reminder that Roma people – as the largest European ethnic minority – have contributed to Europe’s diversity and enriched our heritage for centuries.
Online hate speech and fake stories against Roma people are again on the rise. Many Roma in Europe continue to face antigypsyism, discrimination and socio-economic exclusion in their daily lives – despite EU and national rules against discrimination. Negative stereotypes and prejudices are still very much present in our society.
We need to do better. This is why the Commission will present a reinforced strategy for Roma equality and inclusion in European society.
In these times, greater efforts must be put into ensuring that Roma people are included in society and that they have equal access to the basic needs, thus ensuring their protection against infection. We need to stand united. The only way to overcome the crisis is by working together. If there can be anything more contagious than a virus, it is our solidarity. Europeans need to stand up for each other now. This is who we are.”
The Roma are Europe’s largest minority community – with 6 million Roma living in the EU and 4 million in the enlargement region (Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Turkey). Yet, they have long faced inequalities, social exclusion, discrimination and marginalisation.
The current EU framework for integration of Roma is coming to an end in 2020. The Council, the European Parliament as well as civil society organisations, have called on the Commission to prepare and adopt a new post-2020 EU Roma policy initiative. Preparatory work is already underway to present such initiative.