European Roma Week, now in its fourth year, took place this year alongside European Week against Racism March 18/21 due to the upcoming European Parliament Elections.

Both were significantly enhanced by the involvement of Soraya Post a Roma MEP from Sweden who was elected by the Feminist Party. A number of other Roma MEPs also contributed to Roma Week.

Below is brief outline of the key associated events, all of which took place in the European Parliament:

Evaluating the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies 
09.00 – 15.00 March 19th
organised by DG Justice with the Roma Civil Monitor (Ireland’s NTRIS is part of this Framework)

This very well attended seminar consisted of two main parts focusing on overall evaluation and on more direct examination of progress in six countries. The opening session was addressed by Soraya Post and Szabolcs Schmidt Head of the Roma Unit in DG Justice.  Marek Hojsk provided an overview of the main findings from the Roma Civil Monitor on the implementation of the NRIS.

The plenary discussion indicated that while there had been some good outcomes the prevailing mood was one considerable frustration with lack of progress, resources and implementation. Anastasia Crickley made a short intervention focusing on these concerns, also raising the particular need to address the specific issues of anti Traveller and Roma racism.  She also spoke about a rights based approach inclusive of the rights of Roma and Traveller women and called for a new strategy to be agreed prior to the end of this Parliament.

See report on the evaluation of the framework and Ireland’s civil monitor report.

European Civil Rights Prize of Sinti and Roma 17.00 – 18.30 March 19th

organised by the Central Council and Documentation and Cultural Center of German Sinti and Roma

The prize which has an international jury of Roma and non-Roma is organised bi-annually by Romani Rose and his colleagues. This year it was awarded to Andrew Kiska President of the Slovak Republic who has taken a firm stand in support of Roma in Slovakia sometimes at odds with the policies of his government.

Roma and the UN SDGs 11.00 – 13.00 March 20th

organised by the European Roma Grassroots Organisation Network (ERGO)
At this seminar the ERGO research ‘Roma Included‘ was presented and the challenges and opportunities for using the Sustainable Development Goals were outlined.

Combatting Racism/Discrimination: Evaluating 2014/2019 and recommendations for 2019/2024

organized by ARDI Intergroup, (the anti- racism and diversity inter group of the European Parliament)

This seminar presented perspectives on monitoring and combatting racism/discrimination during the 2014/2019 European Parliament.   Much frustration with lack of progress was expressed from the floor.  Kathleen Lawrence made a well-received explanation of the importance of minority ethnic group recognition for Travellers in Ireland

Advancing Recognition and Remedy for Anti-Gypsyism 
March 20th pm and 21st am
,

organized by Soraya Post, UN OHCHR and civil society with participation also by the Council of Europe and OSCE.
This two part event focused on the specificities of anti Roma racism referred to as Antigypsyism in the European Parliament resolution of February 2019.  The basic point is that anti Roma racism (and anti-Traveller racism) have very specific roots and manifestations which need to be named and acknowledged so they can be addressed.

Meetings were also held with Mairead McGuinness MEP and Vice- President of the European Parliament and Thomas Hammerberg previously Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe

Conclusions
– Pavee Point’s participation and contributions over the years to the initiatives and networks was specifically acknowledged.  This contribution is important for keeping the language and focus inclusive of Travellers as well as for promoting key Irish issues

– National frustration with progress on Traveller and Roma rights issues was reflected across the EU

– Work remains to be done to ensure that the Framework for the next EU Roma Strategy is robust, inclusive has adequate resources and that real implementation with Roma and Travellers is prioritised.

Photo above – (L to R) Anastasia Crickley, Soraya Post and Kathleen Lawrence and