The fourth EU Roma Week is taking place in Brussels starting on Monday 18 March and continuing until Thursday 21 March, coinciding with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The week will consist of a series of events, which will provide recommendations on combating anti-Gypsyism and continued structural discrimination. Each event will be sponsored by one or more MEPs and co-organised by civil society organisations, and the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup. It will be an opportunity for policymakers, experts, activists and organisations to develop strategic and coherent responses to anti-Gypsyism.

At the end of the week, a pledge will be presented where the undersigned MEPs will affirm that they will continue their fight against anti-Gypsyism. This is especially crucial considering the rise of populism and right wing extremism in Europe and the upcoming EU elections.

The pledge will be handed over to Commissioner Frans Timmermans by MEP Romeo Franz, MEP Benedek Jávor and MEP Soraya Post on Wednesday 20 March around 17h55 during the closing of the conference: Creating Trust through Uncovering and Recognising the Truth: Advancing Recognition and Remedy for anti-Gypsyism. A press point with the three MEPs and Commission Timmermans will follow immediately outside conference room ASP3G2.

“People with Roma background have lived in Europe since at least 700 years. Most of us have experienced persecution, humiliation and discrimination. Today, we observe significant differences in the living quality of people with Roma background and the majority society. This year’s EU Roma Week is a great opportunity to address these inequalities. The previous ‘Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies’ has not been a success. Thus, for the next European strategy, I want dialogue at eye level and true participation of Roma people in the conception and execution. Clearly, the focus has to be on fighting anti-Gypsyism, a problem observed everywhere in the European Union. This is what the European Parliament rightfully stated in our recent resolution. For a better future of people with Roma background, we need strong programmes against racism, constant and honest consultation of the concerned people, and smart ways to support useful initiatives,” said MEP Romeo Franz.

“The Roma Week in the European Parliament is a major recognition of the importance of the Roma minority living in Europe. The aim of the 4th consecutive Roma week is two folded: to create a worthy legacy for the future parliamentarians and to take a stock of the achievements and the shortcomings within the EU as much as to clarify our responsibility towards the Roma community. Our conference on the Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies intends to serve both purpose. The NRIS was a good initiative, but in reality, it did not serve its purpose properly. Hence, it is time to see what are the obstacles in terms of legislation, in terms of willingness to integrate, to fight discrimination and in terms of financial support. The EU and the Member States have a shared responsibility, but the EU has to face with the consequences of its own actions and to improve its toolkit in light of the long-term goals: the full integration of those who are living with us for many centuries,” added MEP Benedek Jávor.

“During the EU Roma week 2019, I want to talk about the importance of truth, recognition and reconciliation processes. These processes are vital for the successful fight against anti-Gypsyism. Hundreds of years of systemic dehumanisation of the Roma made legal and unquestionable through royal decrees, state laws and church rules, have poisoned our societies. This inhuman treatment of Roma is almost completely missing from our history books; slavery, the denial of settling down, the systemic murders during World War II, forced sterilisations, educational segregation and the denial of citizenship are just a few examples. I strongly believe that we have to start a joint process of uncovering and recognising the truth, our common history and our common present together. We have to uncover and recognise together the atrocities and rights violations which the Roma were subjected to, and we have to jointly acknowledge the contributions of Roma to Europe. We have to talk to each other and start building bridges; this will benefit our whole society. The EU has to remain true to its democratic values, respect for human rights, non-discrimination and the rule of law – also concerning the rights of Roma,” pointed out MEP Soraya Post.