On Tuesday, over a year since Parliament condemned anti-gypsyism in the EU, MEPs spoke about the persistent discrimination that Romani people face.
Most MEPs who took the floor pointed out that despite good intentions on paper, much more needs to be done to address systemic issues and that the criminalisation of Romani people needs to stop. They also focused on specific instances of excessive force, police brutality, and misconduct, including the death of Stanislav Tomáš in Czechia in June, who has been called ‘the Romani George Floyd’; the police raid of the Moldava nad Bodvou camp in Slovakia and the continuing persecution of the victims since 2013; and the October shooting of teen Nikos Sampanis in Athens, following the pursuit of a stolen vehicle. Some MEPs disagreed, arguing that Romani people refuse to integrate and voicing their support for the police. MEPs were joined by Minister Anže Logar on behalf of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council and Commissioner Helena Dalli. They focused on the EU Roma strategic framework for equality, inclusion and participation and the 2021 Council recommendation to combat discrimination against Roma, and the work being done in relation to those initiatives. Commissioner Dalli also pointed to a legislative proposal for common standards for equality bodies that will be prepared until the end of 2022. This new law would allow such bodies to perform their tasks assigned to them under EU legislation in an effective manner, despite any variances between national legal frameworks that may result in different levels of independence, resources and competences.
The 2020 findings of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) reveal that Romani people are subject to not only discrimination and abuse by police forces; they also face widespread poverty, inadequate living conditions, poor health, exclusion from the labour market and harassment. In its resolution of September 2020, Parliament condemned the persisting social exclusion and anti-gypsyism that lead to the disproportionate criminalisation of Romani people. During a recent debate in the Civil Liberties Committee, MEPs called on the Commission and the member states to put forward better legislation and specific policy measures to prevent such incidents and ensure justice for victims, while placing the fight against anti-gypsyism at the heart of EU policies.