ERIO'S WEEKLY E-NEWS 30-05-2014
ERIO news and activities
Brussels, 27 May 2014 - In the aftermath of the European elections, exit polls are now becoming real scores. These watershed elections have brought about a deep shock in many parts of Europe, with Eurosceptic, far-right and neo-Nazi parties rising throughout the continent. The European Roma Information Office, as an organisation defending the rights of the Roma minority and promoting its full inclusion in Europe, is deeply concerned over the current political landscape marked by dangerous trends towards intolerant, xenophobic and racist attitudes.
Examples are, alas, numerous. Hungarian neo-Nazi movement Jobbik settled for second place with roughly 15% of the votes, whilst its Greek counterpart Golden Dawn is the third party with almost 10%. Perhaps even more worrying news come from long-established democracies, if even in Sweden far-right party Swedish Democrats got two seats within the European Parliament (around 10%). In several countries far-right parties were the most-voted, such as the Danish People’s Party in Denmark (26,6%). Most notably, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) has ranked at the top of UK votes, with over 27%, and in one founding state of the Union, France, Marine Le Pen’s Front National topped the polls with nearly 25%.
“Minority rights, such as those of Roma, are currently at risk in many countries. At the EU level, this could entail heavy consequences for inclusion policies addressed to Roma, hence jeopardising the little progress hardly achieved so far” denounced ERIO’s Executive Director, Ivan Ivanov. “Far-right and neo-Nazi movements are long known for their aggressive policies towards everyone who is different from their self-referential identity” he continued. “Eurosceptics, craving to re-nationalise crucial policies, endanger the rights of Roma too, mainly denying their right to free movement and settlement in the Union as EU citizens”, Mr Ivanov said.
Economic and political crises have certainly contributed to foster the fears of the European peoples. But fear is no solid ground on which to build the future of our societies. We therefore call all parties and MEPs sharing the ideal of a united and inclusive Europe to overcome their differences and stand up against this frontal attack to the fundamental values of our Union and ensure a racism free Europe.
June - Parliament groups start informal negotiations with EU Council on next Commission president
26-27 June - Nomination of Commission president at the European Council summit
14-17 July - Parliament votes on European Council’s nomination of Commission president in its plenary session
Summer - New president nominates his Commissioners team, scrutinised in individual hearings before Parliament in September
October - The new Commission is hoped to be confirmed by the European Parliament
One has a leader with a swastika tattoo, one wants to rid his entire country of Muslims, another has a founder who suggested releasing the Ebola virus on migrants. This is the class of 2014, the parties set to enter the European Parliament as part of the Union's most eurosceptic, far right, anti-immigrant intake of all time.
Though the British National Party had their one MEP dismissed by voters, this year is the first time openly neo-Nazi parties will sit in Brussels as representatives of their nations. The European fringe of what Boris Johnson described as "bizarre or downright potty" have flooded the chamber.Read more here
Roma people will occupy a total of two seats in the newly-elected European Parliament (EP). Soraya Post, a Roma activist and human rights fighter from Sweden, led the candidate list of the Feminist Initiative to victory yesterday. The other MEP of Roma nationality is Damian Drăghici of Romania.
The success of Soraya Post is significant given the topics that she might be able to shore up at the EP and win more attention for. According to her campaign statements, the presence of a feminist representative could enhance the effort to enforce certain current issues, such as that of equality between men and women or the fight against racism, xenophobia and discrimination on the basis of age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.
Read more here
May 22, 2014 - If the six-million strong Roma community of the European Union were organized as a nation state, we would qualify for thirteen seats in the European Parliament—as many as Denmark, Finland, or Slovakia. But the EU is a union of states, not of people.
Since our electorate is divided amongst the countries of the EU, our interests are dramatically under-represented in Brussels. There are as many Roma and Travelers in France as there are citizens of Malta; there are as many Roma in Spain as there are people in Luxembourg; and there are twice as many Roma in Romania than the population of Cyprus, and each of these countries sends six MEPs to the Parliament.Read more here
The end of the EU honeymoon?
27/05/2014 - A decade since the Visegrad countries joined the European Union, a backlash against the bloc has inevitably occurred. In Poland and Hungary, this has led to the rise of the Congress of the New Right and Jobbik, two bone-chillingly far-right parties. The example of the Czech Republic, where euroscepticism is much more benign, indicates that perhaps a look into these nations’ political cultures is key to understanding this electoral success, and that the evolution of these cultures is key to overcoming such a strong shift to the right.
Almost exactly ten years ago, the EU undertook its largest expansion yet. Ten countries, eight of which – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia – were former communist states joined. Millions of people were jubilant. Finally, they felt, their half-century of humiliation was over. Now, their countries would become fattened by EU cohesion funds, which would help them build new highways and repeat the successes of Spain and Ireland (this was before the Great Recession).
Read more here
Miskolc, Hungary, 23/05/2014 - Czech Radio reports that municipal councilors in the northern Hungarian town of Miskolc have resolved to make a controversial offer to the residents of impoverished neighborhoods predominantly inhabited by Romani people. On the pretext of razing ghettos, they are planning to dedicate up to 2 million Hungarian forints (EUR 6 600) to every family that moves away from the town and promises not to move back there for at least the next five years.
Miskolc does not address the question of where these people are supposed to move. An older Romani woman who lives in one of the neighborhoods on the outskirts of the town has expressed herself decisively and unambiguously on the issue: Those living there want to remain on the town's territory.
The point of the town's plan is to move the impoverished families, who are all but 100 % Romani, outside its limits. According to Mayor Ákos Kriza, Miskolc has several "segregates", isolated ghettos both in the town center and on the outskirts.Read more here
Last year extremists in the Czech Republic held 272 events, 135 fewer than in 2012. However, the number of extremist crimes rose from 173 to 211, mainly due to a series of demonstrations linked to socially excluded localities.The main threat for the future remains the possibility of more outbreaks of anti-Romani sentiment. Those are the conclusions of the annual report on extremism during 2013 that the Government has now reviewed.
With respect to extremism, last year was particularly notable for anti-Romani protests related to the existence of socially excluded localities, for example, in České Budějovice, Duchcov, and Ostrava. The triggers for these events, allegedly, were incidents between members of the majority society and the Romani minority. The annual report says 86 people have been charged so far in relation to anti-Romani demonstrations. The report also warns that right-wing extremists held several simultaneous demonstrations on the same day last year in order to fragment the police force.
ANNOUNCEMENTS and events
The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) invites you to attend a training on advocacy skills which will be held on 19 and 20 June from 10:30-17:00 at the Maison Notre Dame Du Chant d'Oiseau, Centre de Formation , Avenue des Franciscains 3a, 1150 Brussels.
The aims of the training are to: Capacitate Roma, especially young and women, to be involved in the implementation of the National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS) as well as in anti-discrimination and social inclusion policies at European, national and local level; Raise awareness on the use of media as a tool to fight discrimination; Inform about relevant EU developments such as the EU Framework, the NRIS and the Council recommendation in order to be exploited within advocacy activities. Registration
You can register by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Tel: +32 2 733 3462
The deadline is 16.06.2014
Places are limited, early booking is recommended.
You are invited to attend Roma MATRIX: Rights and Redressing Racism on Wednesday 25 June 2014 at the Old Civic Hall, Budapest, Hungary. This forum will bring together people from across Europe to discuss and examine experiences, methods and good practice in tackling racism towards Roma. This will include work with law enforcement bodies and public authorities and look at ways to empower Roma to challenge racism and promote citizenship rights. The forum comes at a key time following both strong political statement to end racism and embrace integration at the Roma Summit, and a period of increased anti-Roma sentiment in the run-up to the European elections.
Roma MATRIX is a European project that aims to combat racism, intolerance and xenophobia towards Roma and to increase integration, though a programme of action across Europe. Roma MATRIX is the largest transnational project of its kind, with a partnership of 20 organisations across 10 EU Member States. This is the second of three European Roma MATRIX events.
To book a place at this event, please complete the attached booking form and return it to Nicola Baylis at Nicola.Baylis@migrationyorkshire.org.uk by Friday 13 June 2014. Places are limited so early booking is recommended.
3rd Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region
“We grow together/together we grow – Empowered for a prosperous and inclusive Danube Region” will be held in Vienna on 26-27 June 2014. We would also like to draw your attention on the workshop "Stepping up Institutional Capacity for Roma Inclusion in the Danube Region" on 27 June at 11.00. As places are limited, please register here as soon as possible: www.danubeforumvienna.eu Please note that the conference language is English and that meals will be provided as indicated on the agenda.