Based on consultations with an array of Roma civil society organizations across Europe we demand that the European Commission prioritizes to discuss the following trends and outcomes at the 10th EU Roma Platform, in line with the theme ‘Mutual accountably of all’:
1. Growing anti-Roma politics increases the volume of extreme violence and killings. Roma are the most likely minority to be victims of police brutality, ethnic profiling and criminalization, forced evictions, media demonization, violence and killings. Most dangerously, all these practices are becoming norms legitimized through extreme right parties that have been democratically elected.
2. Growing tokenism at the EU and national levels decreases the legitimacy of all pro-Roma decisions regarding legislation, policies, funding, and practices. There are no effective institutional mechanisms at the EU and national levels for 12 million Roma voices to be heard. The EU and national public institutions do not represent or respond to these voices. In addition, significant numbers of Roma in Europe who do vote face the risk that their votes will be suppressed or manipulated through widespread vote-buying practices or outright fraud. As a result, Roma are largely absent from local, national, EU policy and political decision-making – the most recent example is the way of preparation and organization of the 10th EU Roma platform.
3. Weaker political accountability is worsening the situation of Roma. Despite all the European political and economic reforms, including pro-Roma policies and ad-hoc declarations that the situation of Roma must change for the better, the situation is becoming worse than ever before. Almost all attempts at bettering the lives of Roma are, to say the least, largely declarative and without substantial results. Most members of the intellectual and political elite are unwilling or incapable to recognize this reality and respond adequately.
Therefore, we are recommending these objectives and outcomes for the 10th EU Roma Platform meeting:
1. Introduce a zero-tolerance policy on anti-Gypsyism through a code of ethics for political parties at the EU and national levels.
2. Introduce more inclusive and democratic governance at the EU Roma Platform meetings. An immediate step would be to introduce EU Roma Platform Meeting Guidelines about the main purpose and objectives of the platform, key criteria for participation, selection process methods, and the decision making authority of the main players.
3. Introduce institutional mechanisms to increase the accountability of the EU Roma Platform meetings. An immediate action is to refine the purpose and mandate of the EU Roma Platform following these four steps:
a. Redefine the purpose of the Platform to “The European Platform for Roma Inclusion brings together the most relevant representatives of the national governments, the EU, international organizations and the most representative voices from Roma civil society to assess the progress made, while generating improvements and political commitments that ultimately bring about real change in the lives of Roma in Europe”.
b. Introduce a practice of reflective assessments and transparency of progress vis-à-vis major political and policy processes such as the EU Roma Framework, considering how some practices may have helped or limited significant progress on Roma inclusion such as the yearly progress reports of the EU Roma Framework.
c. Determine the key political commitments of the main players in terms of pro-Roma legislation, policy, funding, and practice during EU and national Roma platform events.
d. Establish an institutional follow-up mechanism for the work done between Platform meetings, including clear roles and responsibilities for the main players in implementing the commitments made in the real-time political and policy processes at the EU and national levels.