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    Historical report calls for an EU-Romani inclusion law

    Friday, 11 September 2020
    This is an opinion article by an external contributor. The views belong to the writer.

    When many think that something is impossible, all can be possible if you believe.

    MEP Romeo Franz is a Sinto from Germany, the son of a Holocaust survivor. I am a Roma from Romania. We are Romani people and together we are a strong team, sharing a common purpose: to make a better world for our people.

    Since November 2019, MEP Romeo Franz and I worked very hard to put together, in the LIBE Committee, a report that has the potential to change the lives of many. More than 12 million Romani people are living in Europe, around 6 million in the EU and 80% of them are living in extreme poverty. Moreover, antigypsyism denies them any chance to a decent life and the Covid-19 crisis has shown it, more than clear, as many people suffered in isolation, without access to food, water, or sanitation, and being beaten by the police.

    They are our people and in every single day of our work, they play a major role, they are in the first place, as this is our goal: a better life for one of the most discriminated and oppressed ethnic groups in Europe, the Romani people.

    With confidence, hope and perseverance, we have started to put together a report and a resolution that has at the forefront, for the first time in the history of the European Parliament, an EU legislative proposal for the Equality, Inclusion and Participation of Romani People.

    We were not alone. We have tried to involve, especially, the ordinary Romani people, the affected people by racism, those from the grassroots level, the civil society, local Romani experts in the development of the report, as we planned something different than only some numbers on a piece of paper. We wanted to put the reality as it is on the table of EU decision-makers together with solutions coming directly from those who should benefit from a potential law.

    A great team of shadow rapporteurs, advisers and experts from the European Parliament, as well as civil society organizations made a complete picture.

    At the end of the day, a historical report was done. We have finally managed to make the voice of our people heard louder and more clear than ever at the EU level, as we are coming from inside the community, from the local level. We were born and raised inside Romani grassroots communities and we have never forgotten this or our people.

    Thursday, the 3rd of September 2020, will remain a day of reference for Romani people. On this day history and justice was done for the largest ethnic minority in the European Union. The report was adopted by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs with a consistent majority of 52 votes in favor.

    This is a huge step towards an immense achievement for a significant improvement in the situation of the Romani communities. There is one more step left, the most important one. In the upcoming plenary session, the Members of the European Parliament will vote for the report. We are confident and we know that God will work again through people to change the lives of other people and we hope the report and its resolution will be adopted.

    This will be the beginning of normality, after years and years of sufferance and deprivation as MEP Romeo Franz said during the plenary debate of July 9th, on Romani Inclusion:

    “I am a Sinto, the son of a Holocaust survivor who lost six aunts and uncles during the Holocaust. I know how racism feels and I don’t want anyone to endure what me and my people are forced to endure on a daily basis. Please hold on for a moment and put your feet in our shoes and ask yourself how it feels facing racism, being degraded, insulted and beaten. We have not only Covid-19 in Europe, but a pandemic that is older and more dangerous: RACISM. Are we finally prepared to confront this reality and correct this injustice?”

    Change can be possible when you believe. Change can be possible when you care for those around you. The report is clear proof and the credit goes to MEP Franz.

    Marius Tudor