Joint action against Anti-Gypsyism

A text by Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany and Sandro Gozi, Secretary of State for European Affairs in the Prime Minister's Office of the Italian Republic

We strongly welcome and support the recent efforts of the European institutions, member states governments and civil society organizations in outlawing Anti-Gypsyism in Europe. As a community of shared values the European Union has always been proud of being diverse and protecting minority rights. Its members have come a long way in bringing the inclusion of Roma communities onto the political agenda. We do not want to turn a blind eye when members of the biggest European minority are excluded from economic, social, political life. Their place is in the center not aside of European societies as they are an integral part. Still, true inclusion is only possible if we also combat biases and take a firm stance against stigmatization, prejudices and hate speech, which unfortunately are still present within the majority societies. We condemn violent incidents based on these prejudices as an expression of racism and xenophobia. It is true that integration is a two way street. This includes civic education on both sides. The majority societies must learn about the belonging of Romani citizens to Europe. For the minority society it is important to learn about their rights and possibilities of participation. The best way still is to learn together, to get to know each other and to have spaces for discussion and dialogue. Fortunately, over the past years European governments have developed many good policy models for promoting tolerance towards Roma. These models involve among other things: Public resources and institutions for raising awareness among pupils and young people, multipliers and state officials; spaces where Roma and non-Roma live and learn together; documenting and countering of hatred in the media and in society; political solidarity with communities suffering from exclusion and violence; steps for coming to terms with our history and for highlighting its consequences for Romani communities in nowadays Europe. The use of such models needs strong commitment and political leadership. This is all the more important these days as Roma and other minorities again become victims of violence and hate campaigns, as it is again popular to divide people and unpopular to stand for unity. Together, we are going to work with our European partners to stand united as a coalition against anti-Gypsyism. Racism cannot be accepted in the Union of values that the EU stands for. Our diversity is not a danger. It is an enrichment and the promise of a fair chance for a safe, free, decent and participatory life for everybody.