WRITTEN QUESTION E-1979/02 by Roberta Angelilli (UEN) to the Commission. Accommodation of nomadic people in European cities.
OJ C 110E , 8.5.2003, p. 26–27 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)
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WRITTEN QUESTION E-1979/02
by Roberta Angelilli (UEN) to the Commission
(8 July 2002)
Subject: Accommodation of nomadic people in European cities
The accommodation of groups of nomadic people has become a pressing problem in many European cities. Large groups of such people often stay for long periods, which inevitably causes problems as regards logistics and their coexistence with the resident population. Lack of appropriate facilities and integration problems can lead not only to growing intolerance but also to serious health emergencies among these groups.
Can the Commission say:
1. Whether there are examples of good practice with regard to accommodating nomadic groups in European cities?
2. Whether there are any studies or research on the phenomenon of migrant populations in Europe?
3. Whether it can express a general opinion on the subject?
Answer given by Mr Vitorino on behalf of the Commission
(14 October 2002)
1. Promotion and protection of minority rights is an integral part of EU human rights policy. The Roma people, of whom there are some six million in the applicant countries, are the focus of particular attention. The Commission's communication to the Council and Parliament on the European Union's role in promoting human rights and democratisation in third countries identifies combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination against minorities as a funding priority for 2002-2004(1). On this basis, a call for proposals focussing specifically on this area was issued in April 2002 under the European initiative for democracy and human rights (EIDHR). EIDHR has played an active role in supporting the rights of the Roma people. Several projects conducted jointly with the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and non-governmental organisations such as Minorities Rights Group International and Caritas are currently under way(2).
Between 1998 and 2001 the Commission funded preparatory measures to combat and prevent social exclusion. The aim of these programmes was to promote exchange and learning between Member States on ways of combating social exclusion. Under these programmes, support was given to many initiatives concerned with the integration of migrant peoples in general and in some
cases specifically with nomadic people. Details of all the projects supported are available on DG Employment's social inclusion website http://esnet.cec/comm/employment_social/soc-prot/soc-incl/prep_mes_en.htm). The Commission is currently planning to document and disseminate the lessons derived from these preparatory measures.
2. As regards studies, there are several research networks which work on immigration and migrant-related issues. One project which deals specifically with the issue of nomadic people in Europe involves research into the educational situation of gypsy children in Spain, France and Italy. It is being conducted under the auspices of Universitat Jaume I, Castellon de la Plana, Spain.
More generally, the issue of ensuring good housing for all was highlighted in the Joint Report on Social Inclusion which was endorsed at the Laeken European Council in December 2001. This was based on an analysis of the National Action Plans against poverty and social exclusion drawn up by the Member States. Clearly, this overall challenge includes the specific challenge of supporting the accommodation and integration needs of nomadic people, though this was only touched on by a few Member States. However, in this regard it is interesting to note that Ireland has recently set a series of targets for integrating the Traveller community, one of which relates to housing, in its revised National Anti-Poverty Strategy. It is also interesting to note that the Commission has recently started a cooperation process to involve applicant countries in the Union's new social inclusion strategy. It is striking that in several of these countries the integration of the Roma people is an urgent challenge, housing being a particularly salient issue. Overall, the issue of housing for immigrants and specific migrant peoples is an important one for the Union and likely to become increasingly so. It is thus to be hoped that it will receive more detailed attention from the Member States in their next National Action Plans against poverty and social exclusion, which are due in 2003.
3. The right to equality before the law and protection against discrimination for everyone is a universal right enshrined in several international conventions, notably the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which has been ratified by all the Member States. The Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights also recognises these fundamental rights (see in particular Article 21 on the right not to be subjected to discrimination on grounds of, inter alia, race, ethnic or social origins or membership of a national minority, and Article 22 on respect for cultural, religious and linguistic diversity).
The EC Treaty grants powers to combat discrimination on the grounds of sex, race or ethnic origin, religion or beliefs, disability, age or sexual preference (Article 13). In 2000 the Commission adopted a package of anti-discriminatory measures, comprising an action programme to combat discrimination(3) and two directives to give effect to these powers(4).
(1) COM(2001) 252 final.
(2) See DG RELEX's minority rights website: http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/human_rights/rm/index.htm.
(3) Council Decision of 27 November 2000 establishing a Community action programme to combat discrimination, OJ L 303, 2.12.2000.
(4) Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin, OJ L 180, 19.7.2000; Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation, OJ L 303, 2.12.2000.