European Roma Summit (Brussels, 16/09/2008): extracts from the opening speech by José Manuel Barroso and from the speech by Georges Soros, chairman of the Open Society Institute and the Soros foundations network
End production: 16/09/2008 First transmission: 16/09/2008
For the first time, EU institutions, national governments and civil society organisations from around Europe came together to discuss the situation of Roma communities in the EU and to find ways to improve it. The EC’s first EU Roma Summit took place in Brussels, under the joint patronage of José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, and the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union. It aimed to promote a firm commitment to tackling concrete problems and to creating a better understanding of the situation of Roma across Europe. It also helped identify "policies that work" in promoting inclusion and highlighting the plight of Roma communities. The outcome of the discussions will be an important input for debates at EU level and for further action.
Roma communities in Europe continue to face persistent discrimination. Following the enlargement of the European Union in 2004 and 2007, Roma communities now represent one of the largest ethnic minorities in the EU. However, the richness these communities could bring to European society is often overlooked, tainted by stereotypes and prejudices that manifest themselves in the form of economic, social and political discrimination.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Arrival of José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, and George Soros, Chairman of the Open Society Institute and Soros Foundations network (3 shots)
||Participants showing a tee-shirt "against ethnic profiling" critisizing the measures taken by the Italian government (3 shots)
||José Manuel Barroso (in ENGLISH) saying that every man, woman and child has the right to live a life free from discrimination and prosecution; this is an issue of European and universal values as well as an issue of fairness, social solidarity, indeed democracy
||José Manuel Barroso (in ENGLISH) saying that public policies that address the Roma should deal above all with the harsh, social economic realities of their lives; what they need is active support for the education of Roma children, for culturally sensitive job counselling, or for the promotion of legitimate self employment through management courses, micro-credit and other instruments
||George Soros (in ENGLISH) saying that he can testify from personal knowledge that many Roma families and communities live in sub-human conditions; an unacceptable reality gives rise to a negative stereotype, and the negative stereotype makes the situation of the Roma worse
||George Soros (in ENGLISH) on Italy; saying that such incidents should be of concern to the European Union and to its individuals Member States; they must develop strategies in avoiding a recurrence of such events; that is why they are meeting; he is deeply troubled by the precedent set by Roma profiling in Italy; he is worried that it could become "de facto" European standard
||George Soros (in ENGLISH) saying that the European Commission played a crucial role in the success of the decade; in his opinion, the European Structural Funds are providing the main motor that keeps the decade going, because these funds offer an incentive for the national governments to devote some efforts and resources to improving the situation of the Roma
||Departure of José Manuel Barroso (2 shots)