In the summer of 2010, Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French President, was criticised by the European Union for the forced evictions of Roma. Today, France is still struggling with its national attitudes towards the ethnic group and two seemingly opposite measures are being taken. Firstly, various Roma settlements have been broken down due to so-called health reasons. In contrast however, on the first government meeting after summer, it was announced that the restrictions for access to the labour market for Romanians and Bulgarians, a nationality most of the Roma in France hold, would be lifted. Moreover, France has also announced taking the discussion on Roma integration to the EU level, although it remains still unclear if this would be through putting it on the agenda of the upcoming European Council or by calling for a separate discussion on this topic. It not only France however, that is struggling with Roma integration policies. When EU member states sent their national strategies to commissioner Viviane Redding last May, a lack of ambition and concrete plans could be clearly be noticed. In an open letter to the European Commission, the European Network Against Racism has recently called upon the European Union to make a real commitment to stop discrimination and deprivation of the Roma. Moreover, working restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians, today still exist in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Since these are to be lifted by the 13th of December 2013, when Bulgaria and Romania will join the Schengen zone, some voices in these Eastern-European countries fear that a Council meeting on the integration of Roma will turn into a EU tribunal on their accession. The challenges that Roma face, also equally affects the young generation of this ethnic group. The European Youth Forum reminds us that youth organisations can be key players in the promotion of equality and diversity. Moreover they can facilitate dialogue and inclusion crucial for embracing diversity in Europe.
Danube.EDU team believes in inclusion