Commit to a racism-free Europe!

by ERIO on March 21st, 2014

Press release

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the European Roma Information Office (ERIO) wants to call on European politicians, civil society and citizens to commit to the fight against discrimination and xenophobia in Europe. ERIO especially wants to stress the need to combat anti-Gypsyism, the ongoing racial discrimination of one of Europe’s mostly deprived and discriminated ethnic minorities, the Roma.

Anti-Gypsyism is widespread across Europe. According to a survey, 46% of Roma respondents felt discriminated against in the past 12 months on the basis of their ethnicity1. Discrimination takes up multiple forms which negatively impact Roma’s daily lives and future. Many Roma experience discrimination in the access to employment, housing, education and health services. They often suffer spatial and social segregation from mainstream society and a high proportion of Roma has been victim to “assault, threat or serious harassment with a perceived racist motive”2. Furthermore, stigmatising, racist anti-Roma discourse among officials, politicians and media has recently increased, nurturing anti-Roma sentiments and reflecting rising trends in racism and xenophobia across Europe.

These trends also show in the recent strengthening of right-wing extremist movements and an increasing popularity of right wing populist views and parties in many parts of the EU. Especially in the light of the upcoming elections to the European Parliament, ERIO wants to encourage citizens and politicians to actively combat these trends, in order to protect European values like the respect for human rights, equality, democracy and human dignity, by counteracting social exclusion and discrimination.

ERIO’s Executive Director, Ivan Ivanov states that “It is crucial that EU citizens make use of their right to vote in the European elections in order to avoid discrimination of minorities. Politicians should exercise their responsibility to represent all EU citizens, including those most deprived, by committing to the fight against discrimination and by upholding the fundamental rights of Roma as citizens of the EU.” Racial discrimination should also be addressed outside the political sphere, on local levels. A holistic approach is crucial for successful Roma integration, as poverty and discrimination of Roma reinforce each other. Ivan Ivanov concludes that "It is essential to continuously counteract racial discrimination by fostering dialogue between Roma and non-Roma, by eliminating negative stereotypes and by keeping up an approach that ensures Roma’s rights which provide for non-discrimination and equal opportunities.”

You can download the press release here.

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