Resolution accepted at the 13th EGP Council, Tallinn, Estonia, October 8-10, 2010
The European Green Party believes all countries must be held to their commitments with regard to all people living within their territory, and should have the highest aspirations for their rights and conditions.
Whether they live in the country they were born in, or have moved to another country, the fundamental rights held by European Citizens are a vital part of the EU, and foremost amongst these rights is the right to equal treatment. We have deep concern for the collective deportation of Roma people, most notably from France and Italy, which violates this principle of equality in a severe and harsh way. It is embarrassing for such shameful actions to take place in countries which profess to keep to high standards of human rights and to respect the equality of all people. The European Green Party believes all countries must be held to their commitments with regard to all people living within their territory, and should have the highest aspirations for their rights and conditions.
The European Green Party and the Green Group in the European Parliament, 1. Deeply condemn the recent measures taken by the French and Italian authorities, as well as by other Member States' authorities, in targeting Roma and Travellers for expulsion, and urges them to immediately suspend all expulsions of Roma while calling for the European Union, and its Member States to intervene with the same request;
2. Recall that the European Directive 2004/38/EC provides very clearly defined limits on the possibility of expelling a European Citizen and that, specifically: decisions on expulsions must be assessed and decided on individually, taking into consideration the personal circumstances (Article 28); that procedural safeguards have to be applied (Article 30); that access to judicial and administrative suspension and redress procedures shall be guaranteed (Article 31); that expulsions of citizens on grounds of representing an unreasonable burden on the host Member State's social assistance system is not sufficient in itself to justify automatic expulsion (recital 16 and Article 14); that any restriction of freedom of movement and residence based on grounds of public policy, public security or public health cannot be invoked to serve economic ends, shall be proportional, and be based solely on the personal conduct of the individual concerned and on no account on considerations of general prevention (Article 27); and that sanctions laid down by Member States must be effective and proportionate (Article 36);
3. Consider that the actions of France and Italy are arguably contrary to EU law, and are certainly not in the spirit of the EU, or the values of justice and tolerance which the EU claims to be founded on;
4. Note that the Directive does not foresee or include any procedure for the facilitated or voluntary return for EU citizens to the Member State of origin on the basis of an economic “compensation”, and that this would also be contrary to the spirit and letter of the Treaties, since freedom of movement is a fundamental right which cannot be alienated, bought or sold, and would create a degree of discrimination between European Citizens ;
5. Underline furthermore that the collection of fingerprints from the expelled Roma is illegal and contrary to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (articles 21.1 and 2), the Treaties and EU law, most notably, directives 38/2004 and 43/2000 and amounts to discrimination based on ethnic or national origin;6. Note that the expulsions have specifically targeted the Roma community, considering it to be a threat to public order and safety, and its members a burden on social assistance programmes, and that the expulsions have been carried out in an extremely short period of time, with methods that included public stigmatization and the use of force and intimidation; since no precise individual and case-by-case evaluation can be reasonably and properly done in such conditions, the procedural safeguards have not been applied and guaranteed, and the condition of proportionality has been violated and the measures could have been taken for economic ends or for general prevention;
7. Highlight the deep flaws in presenting the Roma community as a threat to public order and safety and the expulsions as a solution to this; rejecting this approach for its deeply unjust nature, and for its great level of inefficiency in improving security and preventing the degradation and the persisting poor conditions of the life of many Roma people; The stigmatising rhetoric has to stop. Serious steps must be taken to counter discrimination of Roma, not least in their home countries. Indeed, proactive measures are necessary to undo injustices which have turned Roma into a European underclass. A first step is to give children a chance to be educated and adults to find a job.
8. Note that whenever an illegal camp is dismantled without finding an alternative solution for its occupants, another camp is set up in another place, more people have no possibility to look for a job, and fewer children will go to school;
9. Share the views of the European Commissioner for Justice on "the rhetoric that has been used in some Member States in the past weeks" which "has been openly discriminatory and partly inflammatory" and the call to treat "carefully and responsibly" the issue of Roma integration by policy-makers and rejects inflammatory statements linking minorities and immigrants to criminality, as perpetuating negative stereotypes, contributing to the stigmatization of, and discrimination against, Roma; There is widespread anti-Gypsyism in many European countries today and extremist political groups are trying to exploit these tendencies. It might be sobering to learn that the Canadian authorities have in fact granted asylum to Roma refugees from these countries.
10.Highlight the importance of education on the general acceptance of different cultures and the impact of discrimination and prejudice; notes that responsibility for effective inclusion lies with both the Roma and mainstream society, both of which must make an effort to integrate with one another if social unity is to be achieved.
In light of this, we call for,
11.The European Commission to act promptly to ensure that EU Treaties and law are respected, notably by immediately requesting Member States to stop expulsions of Roma people, since its evaluation of the legality of these actions is not yet completed;
12.The EU to assess the use of European funds to fight against Roma discrimination and to make full use of all relevant European funds so as to ensure real Roma inclusion, with a view to enforcing the mainstreaming of Roma issues in European and national policies on fundamental rights;
13.Those EU Member States concerned, most notably France and Italy, to close the gap in minorities' protection on their territory by signing and ratifying the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities of the Council of Europe;
14.The Danish, Estonian, French, Romanian and Slovenian governments to strictly comply with their obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by immediately endorsing the recommendations of the U.N. Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in its 77th session; especially for
France to avoid collective deportation, to take all necessary measures to ensure equal opportunities in access to quality education at all levels, health, housing and other public facilities, to take all necessary measures to ensure right to vote, to provide shelters as planned by the Besson Law of 5 July 2000 and to guarantee an equal treatment between all the citizens by abolishing the titles of circulation for "travellers";
15.France to remove any provisions of French law which are discriminatory against Travellers, such as requiring them to carry travel permits and restricting their voting rights; and call furthermore for the French authorities to abide to French law, under which all municipalities (communes) with more than 5,000 inhabitants must establish authorized halting sites for Travellers;
16.The EU to produce a comprehensive European Roma Strategy containing “concrete and forward-looking measures to improve the social integration of Roma" and "measures involving housing, access to the labour market, education and health" to contribute "to improving the situation of the Roma", with an analysis based, not only on its exchanges with the public authorities concerned, but also on in depth consultation with relevant NGOs and Roma representatives; and we call on the EU, its Member States and regional and local authorities to take on their joint responsibility for the Roma and contribute in this strategy at their respective level of responsibility;
17.Together with the national commission for equal opportunities, every member state to implement and enforce a national action plan against racism. This plan will ensure enough funding to combat anti-Gypsism;
18.The countries of Europe to remember their obligations under international human rights law to guarantee the right of the child to education on the basis of equal opportunity by avoiding any administrative obstacle;
19.Civil society and political structures in the EU to hear and acknowledge the many and varied voices from within the Roma community who struggle to change structures of patriarchy and traditional values, and support these with the resources needed to present a pluralistic and vibrant Roma community;
20.The importance of role models in integration to be remembered, and support the exchange of best practices from those Member States with more experience of preventing social exclusion of Roma, notably the United Kingdom and Spain; asking in this respect the Agency for Fundamental Rights to prepare a report on best practices regarding Roma inclusion so as to enrich EU policies and to enhance integration;
21.The spread of positive stories of integration of Roma people, and call for incentives to be given to communities and local authorities which decide to welcome Roma communities.
22.A campaign from all national parliaments, the EU, and local and regional authorities, to raise awareness of the meaning of European Citizenship, the rights which are associated with it, especially the principle of equality, and the way in which EU countries should protect these rights, encouraging others to, like the European Greens, proudly defend the principles of equality and non-discrimination, as well as an active countering of the stigmatising and discriminatory misinformation which often circulates regarding Roma people and migrants in general.
23.As European Greens, we will organise a common action or series of common actions involving as many of our member and observer parties throughout Europe as possible. These actions will highlight the need for more just treatment of Roma people throughout Europe, better and more transparent use of the funds which have been earmarked for Roma integration projects, and investment in education and public information programmes about the Roma . Although the precise nature of these actions is still to be decided, they will aim to highlight the positive contribution that Roma people have made
and continue to make to Europe despite the exclusion and discrimination they often have to face. The actions will have a strong cultural, artistic and musical element and will feature the talents of Roma people and other European citizens.
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