MINELRES: ERIO Press Release on the Equality Summit

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Fri Oct 3 18:43:29 2008

Original sender: ERIO <news@erionet.org>


Brussels, September 29th, 2008 – The European Roma Information Office
(ERIO) welcomes the Equality Summit in Paris, initiated by the French
Presidency of the European Union. The event provides the perfect
opportunity to a large number of civil society representatives to gather
with high level politicians and decision-makers for two days (Monday
29th and Tuesday 30th) to have a dialogue and discussion.

It is building up on such initiatives that Europe’s civil society
movement could improve its action to defend the rights to equal
treatment and non-discrimination in all the 27 EU countries. Since
respect of equality is a Europe-wide issue, we need a European civil
society joint action in order to promote broadly the principle of equal
treatment and raise awareness among citizens about its importance in a
European Union that wants to respect its own values.

On the other hand, we don’t have to applaud blindly the efforts of these
high-profile initiatives such this one, because the French Presidency
and all its European partners are not always the best example in
promoting equal opportunities, non-discrimination and social inclusion.

Thursday September 25th, the European Council of Ministers approved the
Immigration Pact, an agreement that will tighten up the access of a huge
number of poor, desperate and endangered people to the EU countries,
including Roma from the Western Balkans. Asylum seekers and migrants
will have more difficult life: European governments will consider them
not as potential citizens or people in need but only as a good source of
cheap labour. Migrants’ families will have more problems in
reunification and their quest for a better life will be jeopardized by
insurmountable red-tapes. These problems will be particularly harming
for Roma from the Western Balkans, who already suffer difficult life
conditions in countries like Italy, where they took shelter from the
wars in the ‘90s in the former Yugoslavia block.

This attitude will create a Europe with first- and second-class
citizens, where only skilled workers from outside Europe could find
their place, leaving thousands of others without any hope. This approach
bears very little in the sense of equality. 

Roma and all socially deprived and excluded people alike need a more
open and constructive approach. We hope that the Equality summit will
give to the European non-discrimination movement a good momentum to
build up a stronger advocacy for effective implementation of equal
opportunity policies, at the same time to counter the sometimes populist
and discriminating policies of the European governments.

Ivan Ivanov, ERIO’s executive Director stated: “Roma should get the most
benefits from the anti-discrimination legislation, because they are the
more discriminated and excluded ethnic group in Europe. For this same
reason, Roma activists and organisations could and should be the driving
force in the EU Equality Agenda. Finally, we have to remember that the
final objective of our and policy-makers activity shall be the full
social inclusion of discriminated groups as Roma, whose
anti-discrimination rights are only the first step of their full
citizenship status”.

For more inquiries contact ERIO’s Executive Director, Ivan Ivanov: +32
473 823887

The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) is an international advocacy
organization, which promotes political and public discussion on Roma
issues by providing factual and in-dept information on a range of policy
issues to the European Union institutions, Roma civil organizations,
governmental authorities and intergovernmental bodies. 
The ERIO cooperates with a network of a large number of organizations
and acts to combat racial discrimination and social exclusion through
awareness raising, lobbying and policy development.. 
Ave. Edouard Lacomble 17 
Brussels 1040 
Tel: 0032(0)27333462                       
Fax: 0032(0)27333875       
For more information: 
E-mail: ivan.ivanov@erionet.org

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