FRA EU-MIDIS Report on Roma

Data collection proves anti-Gypsyism

Brussels, 22 April 2009 -ERIO, the European Roma Information Office, welcomes the MIDIS report on Roma issued today by the Fundamental Rights Agency. Ivan Ivanov, ERIO’s Executive Director, stated: “It is very important that this kind of survey has been conducted among the Roma minority in Europe. The Roma issue is becoming increasingly relevant on the European political agenda but there is still a lot of room for improvement also in a positive initiative as this FRA report”.

ERIO, the reference partner of the EU institutions for Roma issues, underlines some aspects regarding the report that the FRA should address in its next survey on Roma.

First of all, the report has a very important shortcoming: it only investigates the situation of seven EU Member States (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia). An investigation of the Roma situation in countries as Italy, where the discrimination against the Roma is becoming increasingly alarming, France, the UK, Ireland, where the travellers community is facing enormous accommodation problems, or Spain, where a high number of measures against Roma discrimination have been implemented, is still missing. Data on the situation in Spain could have been used to show whether the integration programs active in the country have positive results on the discrimination against the ‘gitanos’.

Secondly, ERIO underlines the importance of working together with Roma NGOs when conducting this kind of survey. In fact, data collection is a very sensitive issue among the Roma community, with a direct and emotional link to the data collection undertaken by the Nazi regime. Therefore, the cooperation with Roma NGOs would make this process smoother and more efficient.

Finally, ERIO invites the competent authorities to guarantee that the collected data cannot be used for any sort of ethnic profiling.

BACKGROUND: the EU-MIDIS (European Union - Minority and discrimination survey) is the first ever EU-wide survey of immigrant and ethnic minority groups’ experiences of discrimination and victimisation in everyday life. Addressing the lack of reliable and comparable data on minorities in many EU countries, the survey examines experiences of discriminatory treatment, racist crime victimisation, awareness of rights, and reporting of complaints. EU-MIDIS involved face-to-face interviews with 23,500 persons from selected immigrant and ethnic minority groups in all 27 Member States of the European Union. 5,000 persons from the majority population were also interviewed to compare the results.

Of all the groups surveyed by the FRA, the Roma emerged as the group most vulnerable to discrimination and crime. The FRA has therefore analysed their situation in a ‘data in focus’ report, the first in a series of reports on minority groups and issues covered by the survey. The report on the Roma reveals a bleak picture for the estimated 12 million Roma in the EU. Roma reported the highest overall levels of discrimination across all areas surveyed. 66-92% of Roma (depending on the country) did not report their most recent experience of discrimination to any competent authority. 65-100% of the Roma respondents reported lack of confidence in law enforcement and justice structures.