Doc. 8830
22 September 2000

Improvement of living and social conditions of the Roma/Gypsy population in order to decrease possible Romani migration from the countries of central and eastern Europe

Motion for a recommendation

presented by Mr Tabajdi and others

This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only

the members who have signed it

1.       The Assembly notes that the problems faced by Roma/Gypsies of central and eastern Europe in their living and social conditions are largely the result of long-standing social, employment and educational policies of the past, which prevented the Roma/Gypsies from real social integration and forced them either to accept assimilation or to live at the periphery of society.

2.       The Assembly is concerned that the social and economic system in the central and east European countries finds the Roma/Gypsy population unprepared to adapt themselves to the basically new conditions of market economy.

3.       It is particularly worrying that social solidarity has markedly decreased in the new democracies, which has given room to rapidly growing discrimination, even racist intolerance, against the weakest of society.

4.       The Assembly is concerned that the Roma/Gypsy population currently faces an extremely difficult social and economic situation in the countries of central and eastern Europe. The unemployment rate among the Roma/Gypsy population manifolds that of the whole society. Due to their poor chances of finding new jobs, the vast majority of unemployed Roma/Gypsies have lost their right to any social care, other than local communal relief.

5.       Many Roma/Gypsies live in extremely poor housing and health conditions, which are an important component of their wider socio-economic deprivation. Poor housing conditions adversely affect the education of children, return to the job market, preservation of health, etc. Life expectancy is considerably shorter, child mortality is higher among the Roma/Gypsies due to many environmental and social factors on the one hand, and unhealthy way of living and bad habits on the other. Also, the access of Roma/Gypsies to public health care should be improved to combat the high incidence of disease and malnutrition in their communities.

6.       Although the existing legal instruments in all the countries concerned prohibit discrimination on an ethnic or racial basis, deeply stemmed prejudices affect ethnic relationships between members of society, and can be seen in everyday life routines. Discrimination against the Roma/Gypsies — at least in its "soft" form — is widely practised in all fields of public and private life, including access to public accommodation, education, employment, health, housing, public and social services.

7.       The Assembly considers that the disadvantaged position of Roma/Gypsies in European societies cannot be overcome unless all forms of discrimination in public life is stopped and equality of opportunity in the field of employment, education, health-care, housing, public and social services is guaranteed for the Roma/Gypsy families.

8.       The Assembly notes that the fight against all forms of discrimination and improving living and social conditions of the Roma/Gypsy communities should be a priority in handling the migration problems of the Roma/Gypsies from the countries of central and eastern Europe.

9.       The Assembly considers that policies aimed at addressing the problems faced by Roma/Gypsies in their countries of origin should be comprehensive, based on the acknowledgement that migration of the Roma/Gypsies is linked with a wide range of different factors and preconditions, namely the economic, social and cultural aspects, and the fight against racism and discrimination.

10.       The Assembly notes that mobility has traditionally been part of the Romani lifestyle, nevertheless Roma/Gypsies consider their land of birth as their mother country. Many of them gave up the original Romani language, the use of which is mainly restricted to family or local communication. Also, cultural interrelations prevent Roma/Gypsies from leaving their land of birth and moving to another country.

11.       The Assembly is concerned that in the past few years a growing tendency to migration or at least growing intention of migration has been felt in Roma/Gypsy communities in all central and east European countries. As a consequence, some countries in western Europe were forced to take legal measures to prevent Roma/Gypsy migration in greater numbers.

12.       The Assembly welcomes national policies that contain government strategies to improve the social and economic situation of Roma/Gypsies in the member states.

13.       Therefore, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers

i.       set out principles and methods of handling the migration of Roma/Gypsies in order to guarantee just treatment for individuals or families leaving their motherland;

ii.       contribute to developing appropriate national, regional and local strategies, programmes and projects dealing with the specific problems of integrating Roma/Gypsies into their respective societies;

iii.       take measures to increase the identification of the Roma/Gypsies with existing societal and political structures in the countries of their origin. A necessary step in this direction is the fight against all forms of discrimination and improving living and social conditions of the Roma/Gypsy communities;

iv.       build new foundations for future government strategies as regards the Roma/Gypsy people in Europe, particularly in view of the social and economic problems faced by Roma/Gypsies in the countries of new democracies in central and eastern Europe;

v.       establish the institution of a European ombudsman responsible for minorities, including Roma/Gypsies, on the basis of the proposals made by several members of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.

Signed : 1

Tabajdi, Hungary, SOC

Clerfayt, Belgium, LDR

Frunda, Romania, EPP/CD

Jansson, Finland, LDR

Jaskiernia, Poland, SOC

Jurgens, Netherlands, SOC

Kresak, Slovakia, LDR

Loutfi, Bulgaria, LDR

Svoboda, Czech Republic, EPP/CD

Wohlwend, Liechtenstein, EPP/CD

1        SOC: Socialist Group

      EPP/CD: Group of the European People’s Party

      EDG: European Democratic Group

      LDR : Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group

      UEL: Group of the Unified European Left

      NR: not registered in a group