The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) dedicated its 12 May Public Hearing to the issue of Roma Health and discrimination, to which EPHA, other civil society organisations and European institutions were invited . By presenting the evidence-based EPHA Position on Roma Health, EPHA highlighted the key role Roma Health Mediators (RHM) could play to promote meaningful Roma integration.
Background information – ongoing EESC dialogue with the European civil society
The Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship (SOC) section of the EESC has launched a project on ‘Better inclusion of the Roma community through civil society initiatives’ .
The aims of the project are to:
- highlight the impact of EU legislation and, programmes from the perspective of civil society
- assess appropriate and effective instruments to more closely involve civil society organisations as a means to improve the social inclusion of the Roma
- look into possible shortcomings in the work already being done at European, national, regional and local levels.
The project focuses on 4 selected countries: Spain, Finland, Romania and Bulgaria. Hearings and country visits will be organised to analyse the four crucial areas of the Roma framework strategy (employment, education, housing, health) between March-October 2014.
Following each mission report produced by the responsible rapporteur, a draft final report will be prepared, based on the mission reports, information collected during the meetings, from visiting local programmes and by means of a questionnaire sent out by the NGOs. Its aim to formulate a number of overall conclusions and recommendations.
Public Hearing in Brussels focusing on Health and anti-discrimination
The president of the project EESC Member Mr Ákos Topolánszky stressed that more efforts are needed from Member States to translate the rhetoric on Roma integration into action and the EESC is looking for inputs from civil society to evaluate the measures in place, better understand the challenges and identify future opportunities for improvement.
The Roma and Health – Roma integration is not feasible without a high level of Roma Health.
Speakers – including the representative of the Directorate General for Health and Consumers (DG SANCO) were concerned that Roma health might not get appropriate attention during the discussions on Roma integration. Ms Isabel de la Mata also stressed the importance of the Granada Declaration which calls on European governments to protect health, ensure access to healthcare and reduce health inequalities of migrants (including undocumented) and ethnic minorities.
- EPHA’s contribution – Europe has the power to act
By presenting available evidence on existing health inequalities between Roma and non Roma, EPHA focused on the following key points:
- Roma integration is a shared responsibility and all actors (Member States, European institutions and civil society) have a role to play. While recognising the special responsibility of Member States, the EU itself bears a considerable part of that joint responsibility by monitoring the commitment of Member States and using the appropriate legal and financial tools. Civil society has the necessary network and knowledge about the situation of Roma on the ground and they can contribute to help Member States and European Institutions fulfill their commitments.
- There are significant pieces of EU legislation in place which allow EU institutions to monitor the implementation of Roma integration (national Roma integration strategies (NRIS), the European Semester and Roma related country specific recommendations, the Racial or Ethnic Discrimination Directive (2000/43/EC) and the Equal Treatment Directive in Employment and Occupation 2000/78/EC ). Moreover, there is a need to adopt the new Equal Treatment (‘Article 19′) Directive to provide the Roma community with higher level of legal protection
- All speakers – including the Members of the EESC – highlighted the key role that Roma Health Mediators (RHM) can play in linking the Roma community with service providers, including healthcare services.
In the second part of the public hearing, speakers presented various examples of inacceptable Roma discrimination cases, including forced eviction and called for action to stop these processes.
Despite the adoption of EU anti-discrimination legislation and the EU Framework for NRIS, extremist organisations, individuals, public officials and politicians continue to openly discriminate against Roma at an alarming rate. We can observe increasing anti-Roma sentiments and anti-Gypsyism and persistent patterns of violent attacks and actions against this minority.
Roma, mainly from Eastern Member States, in addition to poverty and discrimination in housing, employment, education and health, face constant intimidation and violence.
– See more information on the Rise of anti-Roma sentiments and anti-Gypsyism + RED implementation challenges and the role of Equality Bodies
More information on the EESC project
- On the EESC project‘Better inclusion of the Roma community through civil society initiatives’