When a Government chooses to target people on the basis of ethnicity the actions encourage further discrimination and aggravate the already complex issue of Roma exclusion. The recent declarations and actions of President Sarkozy to expel significant numbers of Roma people from France is not a demonstration of strong Government and is clearly at odds with the spirit of European Union policies. The actions lump all Roma people and make negative stereotypical judgments which show a lack of tolerance and a general failure to comprehend the complexity of the issues and level of discrimination that many Romani people in Europe face.
ROMA-NeT, funded by URBACT II is a new project to bring together nine European Cities to work together to develop strategic, but locally adapted, measures to support the social and economic inclusion of the young Roma people that reside in their Cities. ROMA-NeT offers an alternative approach which motivates the City authorities to bring together all the service providers to work with local communities to improve the quality and life opportunities of young Roma adults.
The recent actions in France further stigmatise Roma people, and make the issue of Roma social and economic exclusion more deeply entrenched and more difficult to deal with. Such actions undermine much of the hard work that is already being carried out across Europe to advance Roma inclusion. Roma inclusion demands a long term approach which depends heavily on community trust and cannot go forward without cooperating partnerships between all levels of Government, national, local and NGOs, and the Roma community.
The European Roma Rights Centre supports the actions of ROMA-NeT, see http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=3619 for more information about the evictions and deportations of Roma from France.
Ann Morton Hyde
ROMA-NeT Lead Expert