16.05.2002 / On
Friday 8 March, a group of Roma representatives from several
countries in Europe, came together in a meeting in Den Haag,
the Netherlands, organised by two Dutch Non Governmental
Organisations, Stichting DOEN and Cordaid, to discuss the
start of a European Roma information Office in Brussels, Belgium,
in the heart of the European Union. The aim of this European Roma
information office is to make a reality of the legitimate rights
of the Romany people in
Roma, and all related groups, are the largest
minority of Europe. They live all over Europe, in all the member
states of the European Union, and in all the accession countries.
Despite efforts by international organisations, such as the
Council of Europe and OSCE - and some governments, most of
the Roma in Europe, inside and outside the European Union, live in
circumstances comparable with the conditions
of poor people in slum areas in developing countries. Lack
of housing, jobs,
education and access to health services are daily facts for
millions of Roma. Discrimination and exclusion from society seem
to be normal for the Romany population.
The European Roma Information Office will
provide factual information to such bodies
of the European Union as the Commission and the European
other organisations, regarding the Human Rights of the Roma. This
include progress in attaining their Political, Social and Economic
Rights in the EU
member states and in those of associated partners.
In addition to information provision, the main
tasks of the Office will be monitoring (as
a watchdog) and activities in the field of conflict prevention,
conflict resolution and
post-conflict rehabilitation. The European Roma information Office
on the enlargement process, the implementation of the Race
Equality Directive and on migration and refugees, as well as on
the funds and programmes available for their implementation.
The Office will serve as a connecting point between
Roma grassroots organisations, the Roma network, Roma
national and international organisations, and international
organisations, such as the Council of Europe, OSCE, European
Roma Rights Centre and so on. The European Roma information office
will also act as a clearing house on European Union related
issues to the Roma organisations, in order to create mutual
The start of the European information office
is foreseen in 2003.
A small working group is created to
tackle practical issues in the next months.