Opening of an European Information Office for Roma

     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 Europe.
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 Parliament and other organisations, regarding the Human Rights of the Roma. This information will 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 will concentrate 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 interest.
   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.