BRUSSELS – Statement of Vice-President Frans Timmermans, and Commissioners Marianne Thyssen, Vĕra Jourová and Corina Creţu on the occasion of the International Roma day, Friday 8 April:
“Equality before the law and non-discrimination are fundamental values of the European Union. Yet, anti-Gypsyism is still very common worldwide and in Europe. The exclusion, inequality and discrimination many Roma continue to face, is in strong contradiction with the Union’s core values.
Roma do not have the same access to jobs, education, housing and healthcare. Forced evictions of Roma continue to cause concern. Moreover, the fact that Roma children often cannot benefit from the same quality of education as other children, perpetuates their vicious cycle of poverty. This is why we believe that there is an urgent need for Roma children in particular to get better access to education.
The European institutions and Member States are committed to fighting discrimination and segregation and improving integration of the Roma community. Although the integration of Roma is primarily the responsibility of Member States, the “Europe 2020” strategy prioritises actions that favour socio-economic inclusion of Roma people and prevent discrimination. In this context, under the banner “For Roma, with Roma”, the Commission is undertaking targeted communication activities to fight discrimination and stereotypes against the Roma population. For the period 2014-2020, the Commission also provides further funding for measures aimed at social inclusion, through Cohesion Policy. Through their unanimous adoption of the Council Recommendation on Roma in 2013, Member States also reconfirmed their commitment towards Roma inclusion. However, more should be done, at national, but also in particular at local level. Therefore, the European Union continues to support national authorities, but also and most importantly local stakeholders in their work to protect the Roma’s fundamental rights.
We now need to ensure an effective implementation of these initiatives. As the guardian of the Treaties, the Commission will continue to support and monitor Member States’ anti-discrimination policies to ensure that fundamental rights are respected for all. Roma are part of our Union and must not be left behind.”