On the occasion of the International Roma Day on 8 April, cities across Europe celebrate the Roma culture with activities to raise awareness about the issues facing Roma people.
Cities across Europe unite in purpose on 8 April to celebrate the history and culture of Europe’s largest minority. They organise cultural activities including music performances, theatre plays and parades. Other activities aim to inform and raise awareness about the situation of Roma people, their rights and positive contribution to society. Through these activities, cities bridge Roma and non-Roma communities and build more trust that can bring down negative perceptions, discrimination and anti-gypyism.
For example, in Berlin a documentation of anti-gypysist incidents over the last year (2017) was presented to give an overview of the reality of discrimination Roma people face.
In Barcelona, 21 information points were placed in the city during the two weeks preceding the International Roma Day. They made information about Roma more visible and readily available for every resident of Barcelona. In the morning of 8 April, the flag of Roma people was displayed on the City Hall. Many musical and theatre performances took place in the city to celebrate the rich Roma culture.
The celebration of the International Roma Day will continue with the #EURomaWeek2018 from 9 to 12 April at the European Parliament. EUROCITIES is an official partner of the EU Roma Week and has invited Barcelona, Ghent, Glasgow and Rome to share their good practices of Roma inclusion with EU and national policy-makers in view of building a better vision for the EU approach to Roma post 2020.
What is the role of cities in Roma integration?
Roma are Europe’s largest ethnic minority with an estimated 10-12 million people living on the continent. Their situation remains critical as they continue to face discrimination and precarious conditions. The majority of Roma live in urban areas to increase their chances of finding work. Cities are the first authorities to be in contact with Roma and are in the best position to develop tailored solutions.
Cities play a crucial role in tackling social exclusion of Roma and protecting their rights. They strive towards the full inclusion of Roma in society and closing the gap between Roma and non-Roma. Cities invest continuous efforts to improve access of Roma to education, employment, housing and healthcare.
What is EUROCITIES doing?
EUROCITIES has a dedicated working group that is committed to fight Roma discrimination and exploitation, and foster their inclusion. 55 cities are part of this working group and engage in regular exchange of good practices and knowledge-sharing regarding the integration policies at local level. The group follows the principles set in the EUROCITIES statement on Roma inclusion in cities.
In 2017, we produced a mapping of the situation of Roma in cities in Europe. The study covered 22 cities with large Roma populations. It looked into the challenges Roma face in cities, how cities respond to them, what initiatives they put in place, how they engage with Roma and what support they need.
EUROCITIES collaborates with the European Commission and European Parliament on Roma policy. We participate in the regular civil dialogue with DG Justice and Fundamental Rights by giving inputs from cities’ work on Roma inclusion to inform EU policy-making. We also collaborate with the Council of Europe, the Fundamental Rights Agency and the EU civil society NGOs representing Roma.
As part of the Urban Agenda for the EU, EUROCITIES is involved in the urban poverty partnership to which we contributed to formulating an action plan that includes a priority to tackle Roma vulnerability and proposed three actions in this regard: a post-2020 Roma framework with an integrated and multi-level governance approach, strengthening the desegregation principle in EU funding and facilitating the access to EU funds for cities that develop and implement local Roma integration strategies.