The first EU Roma Summit is set to unfold in Brussels this Tuesday. The living conditions of Roma, social integration and representation across Europe will be at the heart of debate.
The summit comes scarcely two weeks after the biggest gypsy encampment in Europe was broken up. Outside Paris, the improvised living quarters and heaps of rubbish were cleared to make way for new flats, and most of the 600 Roma residents were displaced.
Hungarian Roma MEP Livia Jaroka is committed to improving the lives of the more than 10 million Roma in the EU, and fighting discrimination. Jaroka said: “It is such a drastic situation not only mentally and human rights-wise and economically, but also culturally. It is a huge loss for Europe.”
Unemployment rates for the continent’s largest ethnic minority are very high, since Roma encounter the most barriers, said the European Commission. Lack of formal education is part of the problem, discrimination another. Roma children are often excluded from mainstream schools in Europe. Bringing together representatives of EU institutions, governments, parliaments and civil society, the summit is also aimed at tackling exclusion in health and housing.