The t-shirts bearing fingerprints read: “Against ethnic profiling”. Critics at the first EU-Roma summit were angry that Europe has not condemned Italy for what they called intolerable social exclusion including fingerprinting Roma gypsies.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said they “represent the largest ethnic group facing extreme poverty and discrimination on our territory.”
As her country is current EU president, French Urban Affairs Minister Christine Boutin chaired the proceedings in Brussels. She said that while some concerns were national, the Italian controversy showed that EU countries had to coordinate better: “We are working on scrapping travel paper requirements for Roma. As is the case today, those settled in a town for three years should have the right to vote. I want them to be able to, within a shorter time. I also want them to have identity cards.”
There are some 10 million Roma living in Europe, mostly in Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, with large communities also in France, Italy and Greece. Calls for European laws to guarantee their rights are gaining force.