By Martin Banks - 23rd May 2012
Roma continue to experience discrimination
A new report says that many Roma people "continue to face discrimination and social exclusion" across the EU.
The situation of Roma is on average worse than the situation of non-Roma living in close proximity, it says.
The report is based on two surveys on the socioeconomic situation of Roma and non-Roma living nearby in 11 member states and in neighbouring European countries.
It was published jointly by the EU agency for fundamental rights (FRA) and the United Nations development programme (UNDP).
The results will contribute to the European commission's Roma communication which was due to be presented in Strasbourg on Wednesday by EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding.
"These survey results paint a grim picture of the situation of the Roma across the EU today," says FRA director Morten Kjaerum.
He added, ""Discrimination and anti-gypsyism persist. The results show that swift, effective action is needed, particularly to improve Roma education.
"This is key to unlock their future potential, and it will equip young Roma with the skills they need to escape the vicious cycle of discrimination, exclusion and poverty."
The report shows that in the member states surveyed, where the overwhelming majority of Roma EU citizens live, their situation in the areas of employment, education, housing and health is on average worse than the situation of non-Roma living close by.
"Roma continue to experience discrimination and are not sufficiently aware of their rights guaranteed by EU law, it says.
It also found that only 15 per cent of young Roma adults surveyed have completed upper-secondary general or vocational education, compared with more than 70 per cent of the majority population living nearby.
On average, less than 30 per cent of Roma surveyed are in paid employment, while around 45 per cent of the Roma surveyed live in households lacking either an indoor kitchen, toilet, shower or bath, or electricity.
About 40 per cent of Roma surveyed live in households where somebody went to bed hungry at least once in the last month because they could not afford to buy food.
Kjaerum added, "The partnership developed among four international organisations [FRA, UNDP, the World Bank and European commission] during the process of this research delivers a strong message: the challenges the Roma population faces are so grave that they require a concerted response."
The results, he said, will provide policy makers with the "necessary evidence for designing effective policy responses to address the situation".