The European Socialists and Democrats will launch a comprehensive initiative against anti-gypsyism tomorrow in the European Parliament, including pushing for recognition of the Roma genocide which took place during World War II and the establishment of a European memorial day to commemorate its victims.

At 11:30 (European Parliament, room Jan 4Q2), the European Parliament president Martin Schulz and the S&D Roma spokesperson Soraya Post MEP will open a high-level seminar welcoming Raymond Gureme, a survivor of the Roma genocide during World War II. Other speakers at the seminar include Thomas Hammarberg, chair of the Swedish Commission against Anti-gypsyism, Henri Malosse, president of the European Economic and Social Committee, Inga Reine, head of division for the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Paraskevi Michou, acting director general of the European Commission’s justice department and Damian Draghici MEP. For the full list of participants please see the full programme attached.

Presenting the event, Soraya Post MEP said:

“Up to this point, the political agenda at EU level regarding Roma people has been dominated by social policy involving housing, education and access to healthcare. The aim of the seminar is to launch the fight against anti-gypsy discrimination on the EU agenda. Until this discrimination is dealt with, action in other policy areas will not succeed in changing the situation for Roma people. An important step in the fight against anti-gypsyism is to recognise the Roma genocide during the Second World War, which has so far been a forgotten chapter in the history books of Europe.”

During the afternoon, the European Parliament will hold a plenary debate on anti-gypsyism in Europe – on the initiative of the S&D Group – including a call for EU recognition of the commemoration day for the Roma genocide during WWII. Following this debate, the European Parliament will adopt a resolution during the next plenary session in Strasbourg at the end of April.

“We must face up to the fact that Roma people are actively excluded at all levels of society and that discrimination against the Roma has become the norm”, added Soraya Post MEP. “It is everywhere and we need to see it for what it is. Anti-gypsyism is at the root of the exclusion of Roma people and it is an obstacle to the necessary political will to make real progress on the Roma inclusion agenda. Instead of considering groups vulnerable, we must focus on the weak structures of our societies. It is this that has failed – not the Roma”, she concluded.

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