Weekly news


ERIO news and activities

* Continuing our training on Roma history and culture with school teachers
We started the shootings of a documentary which aims to raise awareness about the Roma culture through dialogues between Roma and non-Roma actors of different generations from Belgium, UK, Italy, Bulgaria and Croatia. Each partner will film five dialogues: two children, two teenagers, two women or mothers, two adults and two people aged over 60.
The short documentary is being prepared in the context of the SMILE project.

Visit the SMILE project website here
* 4th EC assessment report on the implementation of the National Roma Integration Strategies
On 18 June 2015, the European Commission released its fourth annual assessment report on the progress made by member states in the implementation of the National Roma Integration Strategies in the four key areas of education, employment, healthcare and housing, as well as in the fight against discrimination and the use of funding.
According to the report “improvement on aligning (revised) National Roma Integration Strategies with EU funding instruments, but further efforts need to be made to fight discrimination and anti-Gypsyism and turn existing coordination structures into effective and inclusive cooperation mechanisms involving civil society and national, regional and local authorities with a clear focus on local level implementation and monitoring of results”.

The full report and relevant links can be found here.

OTHER news

* Bulgaria: Roma respond to anti-Romani protests in the capital
By agw, Focus News Agency, novinite.com

19/06/2015 - On 14 June the FOCUS News Agency cited police reports that a protest against the "lawlessness of Roma people" on 13 June had resulted in several injuries in the Orlandovtsi district of Sofia, Bulgaria. A brawl reportedly broke out between non-Romani and Romani residents there. More than 10 local police cars, state police teams, ambulances and fire engines reportedly responded to the incident from around the region. FOCUS News Agency reported on 19 June that the anti-Romani demonstrations continued to be held in that neighborhood on every subsequent evening. The agency also quoted academics from various disciplines who commented on the events on 15 June, sometimes in terms that reiterated anti-Gypsyist tropes. Professor Mihail Konstantinov, a mathematician, told the FOCUS News Agency that two generations of Roma are "totally out of control".

His comments were reportedly made in the context of discussing who bears political responsibility for the democratic and economic transition period in Bulgaria, which he said had facilitated the creation of a group of people whose aim is allegedly to exercise their rights, including to social benefits, without living up to any social obligations. The mathematician described this group as illiterate men and women between the ages of 25 and 35, most of them Roma, whom he characterized as "unfit" to survive in the modern world, comparing them to African-Americans.

Read more here
* EU and UN criticize Hungary for local treatment of Roma and border fence plans
By agw, politics.hu, press release of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

19/06/2015 -  On 16 June, politics.hu reported that EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said the Miskolc council's recent moves with respect to the housing of Romani people contravene both the EU's Roma Integration Framework Strategy and Hungary's own Roma Strategy. The Commissioner made the statement in response to a written question submitted by MEP Péter Niedermüller (Democratic Coalition) in March.
Niedermüller informed Jourova that Miskolc plans to eliminate a particular neighborhood and is offering compensation to its local residents, mostly Roma, on the condition that they move away from Miskolc entirely. After many of the affected people declined the offer, the council began cancelling their leases, citing outstanding payments as the reason.

Approximately 150 families were at risk of being forcibly evicted, according to Niedermüller. News server Romea.cz reported in May that the terms included not just leaving Miskolc, but promising not to return for five years. It’s maybe worth remembering that of the 180,000 nomads living in Italy, the majority (61%) have citizenship and, most importantly, 80% live like everyone else: in rented accommodation or their own homes. But the real problem is the remaining 20%, who have erected micro towns of crime on the peripheries of our cities, with campers, containers, tents and bivouacs. That is the point, if only because this minority, who disregard the law, eclipse the majority. The proof of this is the fact that many people believe that the vices of the few define the entire Roma community.
Read more here
* Roma inclusion important on Serbia’s EU path
By InSerbia Network Foundation

11/06/2015 – Belgrade - Roma inclusion will be one of the important issues in Chapter 23 of EU talks and will have an effect on the overall pace of Serbia’s accession negotiations, it was said at a seminar on social inclusion of Roma people in Serbia on Thursday.

Tanja Miscevic, the head of the negotiating team in Serbia’s EU accession talks, said this issue will be included in other chapters as well, especially in the area of social and health care. Serbia has not met all of its obligations, but certain progress in finding a solution and drafting plans for improvement of Roma people’s position has been made, she noted.

Read more here
* Brussels critical of Miskolc council’s evictions of Roma residents
By Hungary Matters

16/06/2015 - Measures by the Miskolc (Norteast Hungary) local council affecting local Roma residents’ accommodation are not in line with the European Union’s framework strategy or Hungary’s Roma strategy, Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said. She said in response to a written question by MEP Péter Niedermüller, of the Democratic Coalition party, submitted in March that the Brussels body has contacted the Hungarian authorities to assess whether the Miskolc council’s measures are in line with EU laws banning racial discrimination.
Read more here
* Bulgarian PM calls for calm after Roma tensions

16/06/2015 - Bulgaria's prime minister appealed for calm today following several days of violence and ethnic tensions involving the EU country's 10-per cent Roma minority. "I call on everybody to be careful and not to play with fire... It is very easy to spark an ethnic conflict," Boyko Borisov told journalists, adding there was already "huge instability". Hundreds of people in Sofia's Orlandovtsi neighbourhood have staged daily anti-Roma protests since Sunday after seven youngsters were injured in a fight between locals and Roma.

Yesterday night police prevented several dozen locals from storming the Roma ghetto. Four men have been charged with hooliganism and some 70 people — protestors and Roma — have been arrested in the past two days. "We have nothing against the Roma from our area. But there are gypsies coming from the country who harass our girls, attack our boys and steal from our houses," protester Petar Ivanov, 52, told AFP.
Read more here
* Integrated global approach needed to ease plight of Roma – UN rights expert
By United Nations

17/06/2015 -  Noting that economic, political and social marginalization of Roma communities remains a major issue, a United Nations human rights expert urged thinking outside the “poverty paradigm” and adopting an integrated approach to address their plight.
“I urge States to place Roma rights at the heart of all strategies and policies related to human and minority rights, social inclusion and development, with explicit targets for Roma communities,” Rita Izsák, the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, said yesterday presenting her latest report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Read more here
* EU Commission Allocates EUR 55 M to Roma Integration in Bulgaria
By Novinite

18/06/2015 - More than BGN 110 M, or EUR 55 M, of funding earmarked for Bulgaria under the 2014-2020 operational programs are to be set aside for Roma integration, a EU official has said.
"The money is available now, could be used outright and the work [done with it] has to be complex," according to EU Commission Vice President for Budget and Human Resources Kristalina Georgieva. On Thursday she told the Bulgarian National Radio that more needs to be done than what has been achieved at present to tackle integration problems. She called on Bulgarian authorities to put in more effort to help Roma children aged between 7 and 15, a quarter of whom do not go to school.

Read more here
* Paris Fails the Migrants
By The New York Times

18/06/2015 -  France’s failure to devise a realistic, humane plan to deal with migrants from Africa and the Middle East and Roma people from Bulgaria and Romania is having devastating consequences. The main victims are the migrants, forced to shelter in squalid temporary encampments. But another casualty may be a sense of unity in the European Union.
On June 8, a week after demolishing a migrant tent camp, the police in Paris used tear gas to clear migrants from a sidewalk where some were camped. On that same day, a 4-year-old Roma child died in a fire in a camp in Lille, one day after another child died in a fire in a Roma camp outside Paris and one day after Unicef France released a report on child poverty highlighting the “unacceptable” conditions in which many migrant children live. African migrants in Paris are, for now, being allowed to camp in a park.
Read more here


* Media: a key tool to fight hate speech and anti-Gypsyism - CONFERENCE INVITATION

Brussels, 26 June 2015
The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) invites you to attend the conference “Media: a key tool to fight hate speech and anti-Gypsyism” which will be held on 23 June 2015 at the European Economic Social Committee, room TRE 7701 (7th floor), 74 rue de Treves, 1040 Brussels from 09:00-17:00.

Media represent a strong communication tool in shaping the opinion and behaviour of Europeans on a daily basis. Roma are subject to discriminatory and racist discourses in the media whose reports continues to identify them as ‘outsiders within’ and as a threat to the fabric of the European society. Media tends to reinforce and reproduce existing stereotypes of the Roma and constructs them as useful scapegoats in times of economic crisis. These representations greatly influence individual attitudes and strengthen racist discrimination against this community, prejudice, xenophobia and even incitement to ethnic hatred.
There is an urgent need to address these issues. Due to the significant impact of media on European societies, journalists should take a special approach once informing about vulnerable groups such as Roma, who constitute the largest European ethnic minority. We should invert the role of the media as a tool for anti-Roma sentiment and use it to fight anti-Gypsyism. The media has a crucial role in combating racism and stereotypes about the Roma. This can be achieved with an ethical and critical journalism which aims to raise awareness and provide a greater understanding regarding Roma issues.
This conference will focus on finding appropriate and effective ways to sensitise journalists to Roma culture in order to overcome media negative stereotyping while discussing the role of the media in combating anti-Gypsyism. It will provide a platform for participants to exchange information and ideas about good practices and to discuss possible challenges and opportunities in tackling negative stereotypes and hate speech in the media.

This conference will be in English.

You can register by email or phone by giving your name, surname, title and the organisation you are working for. The deadline for registrations is 19 June 2015 at 15:00 (Brussels time).
For registration or any other queries, please contact: office@erionet.eu or Tel: +32 (2) 733 34 62
Contact us