Magazine article European Social Policy

Justice and Home Affairs : Funds for Roma without Results Fuels Hatred, Warns Activist

Magazine article European Social Policy

Justice and Home Affairs : Funds for Roma without Results Fuels Hatred, Warns Activist

Article excerpt

While funding to help Europe's Roma population has increased significantly, this has unfortunately fuelled anti-Roma sentiment, a leading Roma political activist has warned. As talks continue on the EU's budgetary framework for 2014-2020, Zeljko Jovanovic, director of Roma Initiatives at the Open Society Foundations, has said the process was "going to be very hard" from the Roma viewpoint as "the European taxpayers hate the Roma". As evidence of this backlash, he cited a growing number of violent attacks against Roma in countries like Hungary, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. Asked if this new reality was making the Roma reluctant to accept EU aid, he said his community still needed the funding but stressed, "you need to show what it has achieved" in terms of concrete results like sewage pipes being built or students being educated. "Otherwise, our neighbours just say they got money but it has made no difference'," which only increases support for far-right anti-Roma political parties. Jovanovic, who is from Serbia, was speaking at a seminar of Roma experts and activists at George Washington University in Washington DC, on 3 May.

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Putting recent developments into historical perspective, Jovanovic said "we believed for many years that democracy would work for Roma in Europe. But it hasn't". He added that "our people haven't felt a change in their daily lives," although he admitted there have been some improvements in the policy environment, in particular with the EU's adoption, in 2011, of a Roma integration framework. …

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