European & International News

President of European Parliament demands action to combat ’unacceptable’ Roma discrimination

By Martin Banks, The Parliament Magazine

Parliament’s president Jerzy Buzek has led new calls for an EU-wide crackdown on discrimination against Roma people.

Addressing the plenary, the Polish MEP said Roma were the "most oppressed" ethnic group in Europe and that such discrimination was "unacceptable".

A special debate was held at the start of the plenary on Wednesday to remember the "huge" number of Roma people who were killed by the Nazis in WW2.

Buzek’s comments come as the EU agency for fundamental rights (FRA) published new findings on discrimination in Europe on Thursday.

The findings show that people belonging to ’visible’ minorities, such as Roma or people of African origin, are more likely to suffer "multiple" types of discrimination.

Its director Morten Kjaerum said, "Many men and women are still facing discrimination in the EU – when at work, trying to find somewhere to live, or when they enter a shop.

"For example, when a North African Muslim woman is denied access to a female doctor in a hospital, she faces a problem not just because she is a Muslim or not just because she is a woman, but because she is a Muslim woman.

"Most European courts deal only with one ground of discrimination per case.

"This means that victims of multiple discrimination find it harder to present their case in a court and be compensated for all the different types of discrimination suffered.

"Introducing the concept of ’multiple discrimination’ into legislation could as well help to better match the law and a person’s every-day complex experiences of discrimination."

The FRA report was presented in parliament at a special exhibition showcasing the work of EU agencies.

FRA interviewed 23,500 people with an ethnic minority or immigrant background in all member states.

Kjaerum said the FRA study shows that one out of four ethnic minority or immigrant respondents in the EU had felt discriminated against on two or more grounds during the 12 months preceding the survey.

Having an ethnic or immigrant origin was the most significant grounds for experiencing discrimination among the respondents who were surveyed.

The grounds of discrimination surveyed included ethnic or immigrant origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion or belief, and disability.

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