Award by the Roma Community in Europe to the European Parliament

Pressmeddelande   •   Apr 06, 2009 10:45 CEST

In run up to International Roma Day on 8 April, a delegation of Roma representatives handed over an award on behalf of the Roma Community in Europe to the European Parliament of 2004-2009 for defending the rights of the Roma in Europe. President Hans-Gert Pöttering said: "It's a great honour for the European Parliament to receive the award for defending the rights of the Roma in Europe. This is a significant recognition coming from the largest ethnic minority in the EU that unfortunately suffers severe discrimination, poverty and social exclusion.

During this term (2004-2009), the European Parliament has monitored the situation of the Roma, who still face structural racial discrimination. The Parliament also adopted a number of resolutions in particular one calling on the European Commission for a European Roma Strategy and more recently one on the social situation of Roma and their access to the labour market. As the democratically elected institution of the EU and representatives of EU citizens, we stand with the Roma, demanding their inclusion in all the spheres of life in Europe as EU citizens.

There is still much that needs to be done for the Roma in Europe, especially combating the growing anti Romani sentiment in Europe. But we also need to energise the Roma political representation and to join forces with the Commission, the Council and EU Member states.

Throughout history, the European Roma have been an integral part of society in many European countries and have contributed to it. Their situation and their history justify specific measures at European level. However, the full social inclusion of Romani communities has not yet been achieved and EU instruments need to be used to effect effective and visible change in this area. The European Parliament will continue its work to assure that the Roma can fully enjoy their rights as citizens of the European Union."

Background information

Some 12 to 15 million Roma live in Europe and of them some 10 million live in the European Union. Many of them suffer racial discrimination, poverty and social exclusion. A majority of European Roma became EU citizens with the 2004 and 2007 enlargements, enjoying the right of EU citizens, such as the freedom to move freely with their families within the territory of the Member States. (21-24/04).

Members of the Roma delegation

Sebihana Skenderovska - board member of European Roma and Travellers Forum-Strasbourg
Isabela Mihalache - board member of European Roma Rights Centre-Budapest
Pedro Aquilera - chairperson of European Roma Information Office-Brussels
David Mark - Policy advisor of the European Roma Policy Coalition-Brussels
Zeljko Jovanovic - Open Society Institute- Roma Initiative -Budapest
Valeriu Nicolae - Roma Policy Centre-Bucharest
Martin Demirovski - Political assistant to Member of European Parliament

The 8th April - International Roma Day

In 1971 in London, Roma activists from all around the World got together in London at the First World Roma Congress. At the Congress, major decisions for the political empowerment of the Roma were taken:

  • adoption of the Roma Anthem Gjelem Gjelem
  • adoption of the Roma flag
  • recognition of the word"Roma" as official name instead of the derogative term Gypsies, Tsigane,Zigeuner, etc.

The International Roma Day is internationally recognized by many Roma organizations in the world as well as several Inter-Governmental organizations as the Council of Europe, the OSCE, and the European Commission.

European Parliament and the Roma

  • On 8 of April 2005 Brussels, the Roma flag was hand over to EP President Josep Borrell by a Roma delegation;
  • On 8 of April 2006 Strasbourg, a photo exposition on the Roma Holocaust was hosted by President Borrell;
  • On 8 of April 2008, concert of Vaya Con Dios in the EP hosted by President Pöttering;
  • On 2 April 2009, a Roma delegation hands over to President Pöttering an award of the Roma Community in Europe to the European Parliament.
REF. : 20090403IPR53423


Baptiste CHATAIN
Service de presse