To mark this year’s International Roma Day on April 8, the European Union has dedicated an entire week to raising awareness about the plight of Roma in Europe. Between April 8 and 12, a series of events will be co-hosted by the European Parliament, the European Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Council of Europe, the City of Brussels, several members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from various political groups, the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI) and many civil society organisations.

According to Hungarian MEP Benedek Jávor, Greens/EFA group, exclusion is still everyday reality for most of our Roma fellow-citizens throughout the EU. “In some member states we are simply not effective enough with our integration projects, in some others governments bring back shadows of the past declaring that integration is not possible. But we cannot give up our vision of a just, equal and inclusive Europe, based on fundamental rights and values.”

Roma have been neglected, discriminated against, stigmatised, excluded and dehumanised for hundreds of years, according to Swedish MEP Soraya Post, S&D group’s spokesperson on Roma issues. “We are now slowly starting to improve the human rights situation of Roma people in Europe but we have a long way to go. I demand nothing more, but also nothing less, for the Roma people than I demand for the majority society. I want Roma people to be able to enjoy their fundamental rights in the EU and fulfil their full potential, just like anybody else.”

Events during EU Roma Week will provide recommendations on combating anti-Gypsyism – defined as the specific form of racism against Roma people.

On April 11, a public hearing on “Addressing anti-gypsyism in ethnic profiling practices” will be held at the premises of the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels. This event will look at the ethnic profiling in relation to the Roma community and will discuss discriminatory practises against Roma people by the police and in the court systems.