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Roma Week 2018: Video

During the week of International Roma Day, marked on 8 April, the European Parliament hosts Roma Week. This year’s Roma Week continued to build on a report that the European Parliament adopted in October 2017: “Fundamental rights aspects in Roma integration in the EU: Fighting Anti-Gypsyism.”

MEP Benedek Jávor discusses the aims of the week in this video


In a press release, MEP Benedek Jávor stated:

In spite of a lot of efforts, number of documents and money spent from EU sources, exclusion is still everyday reality for most of our Roma fellow-citizens throughout the EU. In some Member States we are simply not effective enough with our integration projects, in some others governments bring back shadows of the past declaring that integration is not possible. But we cannot give up our vision of a just, equal and inclusive Europe, based on fundamental rights and values. Together with Roma communities, activists and civil society we have to continue our work to make this dream come true. With the Roma Week we aim to celebrate together Roma culture as an important part of our colourful Europe, but also to point out the problems and shortcomings we have, to find better and better solutions.”


For the conference, MEP Benedek Jávor invited Thorsten Afflerbach, Head of Division for the Roma and Travellers Team, who addressed the participants of the event “From Quality Education to Decent Employment“.  In the Panel “Access to Decent Employment“ he presented the recommendations on facilitating the transiting from education to employment for the Roma youth.


Additional aims for the weeks conference are outlined in the agenda.

1. Recognition of anti-Gypsyism: An opportunity for experts and activists on the issue to advocate European and national policymakers to strengthen the recognition of anti-Gypsyism as well as develop strategic and coherent responses.

2. Advocacy for specific thematic areas: Such as Roma Framework and its renewal post 2020.

3. Networking and knowledge exchange: To facilitate exchange, build capacity of activists, and inspire similar activities in Member States.


Source: https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/roma/-/asset_publisher/GYHQssTIzR6h/content/council-of-europe-contributes-to-eu-roma-week-2018?inheritRedirect=false
Source: https://feministinitiative.eu/2018/04/04/the-third-eu-roma-week-will-take-place-in-brussels-starting-on-8th-of-april-international-roma-day/



RomaWeek: Combating Antigypsyism in Europe

On the occasion of the International Roma Day, the European Parliament is hosting a week-long program filled with workshops, conferences, exhibitions, awards and other events to celebrate the Roma culture. This year, the Greens have issued a publication titled Countering Antigypsism in Europe, which was introduced to the public today with introductory remarks from MEP Benedek Jávor.  The agenda of the event and the publication itself in English are attached below:

May 28 event: Agenda

Countering Antigypsism in Europe (publication): Countering_Antigypsyism_web_version


Mr. Jávor’s introductory remarks can be read in full below:

Combating Antigypsyism and a gender and youth dimension in the current and post-2020 EU Roma Policy

Hosted by Greens/EFA in cooperation with ERGO Network

Introductory Remark by Benedek Jávor:

The International Roma Day (April 8) is a day to celebrate Roma culture and raise awareness of the issues facing Roma people. We Greens in the European Parliament felt the importance of the Roma Day hence we are proud to be participating in the cooperation of political groups for the second time to celebrate it in the European Parliament in order to show in Europe who Roma people really are and indeed to raise awareness of the problems they are facing.


  • In the preparation of this year’s Roma Day the Roma Working Group of the Greens/EFA Group has decided to prepare a book about Roma with a dual aim:


  1. To present the urgent problems the Roma facing today: the forms of antigypsyism, forms of discrimination and segregation,the political dimensions in the Member States and in Europe and about the recognition of the Roma identity in Europe.
  2. and our position and ideas as Greens how to tackle them.


Of course there are no easy and fast solutions to almost none of those problems.

The history of racism and discrimination has a many century long history in general and against Roma as well.  Systemic antigsypsyism can be found on all field of life:

  • it happens that state owned companies fail to employ a person with Roma sounding name,
  • officials in local authorities do not accomplish their best and don’t share all the necessary information with a person with an address from specific area of a Roma settlement;
  • police stops persons in order to verify their identity when simply walking on street with 150% more chance if she /he has visibly darker skin color.
  • But antigypsyism can be found on highest level when EU funds are directed in a way that they:
    • maintain and support of segregated schools;
    • systematically supporting the only non-Roma schools
    • and preventing Roma to have access to quality, equal, non-segregated schooling.

But Roma are not the only society group in need. Poverty is in rise among Central Eastern European countries social strata’s. I know quite precisely that for example 21% – approximately 800,000 – of Hungarian households are considered to live in poverty. In poverty which is comparable to third world countries. Such poverty includes energy poverty, in which Roma (who consist only 7-8% of the Hungarian society) are extremely overrepresented. In their case this is a real struggle when important decisions must taken during wintertime: what to finance heating or the other costs.

We those politicians committed towards green technologies are sure that there are methodologies, techniques and tools available for such cases. The internet – including the most popular video sharing sites – are full with short videos explaining how could the poorest people make heat support supply out of empty beer cans, LED light system out of a single and cheap solar panel and and a car accumulator, solar grill equipment out of an empty shoe box.

Of course we as Greens have a long history of speaking out against racism and discrimination and stepping up for minorities. But we also must take a look on ourselves and strictly scrutinize whether the EU has done everything in order to make these people’s life easier; have we made the maximum to channelize EU funds towards those most in deprivation, or are we sure that EU funds were not used in a way that made the gap between Roma and non Roma, marginalized and better of people even bigger?

If the answer is “no”, or – even worse – “we don’t know” than we European decision makers here in the Parliament, in the Commission and in other European bodies will have to re-plan our approach towards Roma. Because their problems are not simply their individual, personal issue but it will effectuate the Member State’s and therefore whole Europe’s competitiveness.

I know that our booklet is not changing al circumstances around us, I am afraid that it will not have an effect to stop or even eliminate anti-gipsyism from one day to other I also hardly believe that it was the only thing needed to change the entire EU support system. But I strongly believe that is a tiny but important step towards a better working EU for all of us. I wish you a fruitful conversation!

Benedek Jávor installed solar panels- “Bringing the light” workshop

The Green Workshop Foundation together with the Romaversitas Foundation organised a three-day workshop in the town of Bicske. We have prepared a cheap lighting solution with a solar panel and small batteries and LED lights. We also taught the various steps of the installation for the locals. On the last day we installed electricity for the Járóka family’s house. Benedek Jávor took part in the work as well. Two boys from the family, Patrik (17) and Marci (10) worked very well, and after we left they continued installing electricity in the other rooms.


Photos Járdány Bence

MEP Benedek Jávor’s message on strengthening Roma participation in politics

Mr. Benedek Jávor’s message on the political participation of Romas was given on the occasion of the European Roma Information Office’s conference titled “Strengthening Roma Political Participation”. The conference was held 10th of June, 2016; Mr. Jávor’s video message can be watched below.


(Image source: erionet.eu)

Everyday Roma Heros- exhibition in the European Parliament #EuRomaWeek

We live in a symbiotic way together with the Roma minority even if many people do not even notice that. With our exhibition about our Everyday Roma Heroes we want to show and to prove this symbiosis. They are in our life as journalists, teachers, are nurses and bakers.

Despite constant isolation and the political discourse we should not forget: Roma people make Europe great too!

Heroes give us examples, motivation, strength for overcoming difficulties. As every person in every nation Roma needs Heroes to follow. They need their national Heroes and they need their heroes for their everyday life.

This portray exhibition concieved by the Roma Press Center Hungary in the European Parliament for Roma Week  introduces exceptional Roma people from all around Europe – everyday heroes whom we all can be proud of.

Click below to visit the exhibition organized by the Roma Press Center with several partners from Europe.

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Bringing light: social aspects of the energy agenda

In order for green ideas on energy to resonate in the mainstream, questions need to be answered about how the transition will be financed, and how it will benefit those are already marginalised and struggling economically. A positive initiative targeting the Roma minority in Hungary shows one way in which this can be achieved.

(Source of the picture: fortytwotimes.com)

Energy poverty: a pervasive problem

Europe’s energy policy has seen profound changes in the last decades, but it is currently facing a new situation with multiple challenges. Although choices around energy in different Member States may vary, we have three common and distinct policy objectives: limiting the climatic and environmental impact of energy production, transport and use; ensuring a reliable and uninterrupted supply of energy; and making energy affordable for every citizen while fighting against energy poverty.

The first two aspects have been widely discussed, thus in this article I put emphasis on energy affordability and in general the social aspects of the energy agenda, which has clear linkages with climate and energy security issues. Before examining the social aspects in detail, I would like us to remind ourselves that:

  • We need substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions to avoid climate or ecological tipping points. Moving towards a low carbon economy would also result in substantial savings in terms of fuel costs in the EU, namely € 175-320 billion annually over the next 40 years according to the European Commission estimates.
  • We need to reverse the current trends and reduce energy dependency in the EU. EU dependency increased from less than 40% of gross energy consumption in the 1980s to reach 53.4 % by 2012. To reverse the trend, an ambitious and coherent energy framework with interlinked targets is crucial.

These two challenges are accompanied by the pervasive problem of energy poverty in many regions of the EU (mainly in Eastern-Central Europe and the Mediterranean member states). Hence, making energy affordable for each and every member of European society and making sustainable technologies available for all are of utmost importance. This is also valid at global scale – according to the International Energy Agency estimates provided in the World Energy Outlook, 1.8 billion people lack access to electricity and in some regions, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia, energy poverty either stagnated or worsened as population growth outpaced energy access efforts.

In Europe itself, it is estimated that 50-125 million EU citizens are affected by energy (or fuel) poverty meaning that these households are unable to heat their home, afford to use energy services at an adequate level, and are forced to spend an extremely high proportion of their incomes for maintenance. Many households are unable to escape energy poverty and are basically excluded from existing energy modernisation programmes (e.g. insulation and improving heating efficiency of homes) due to their unfavourable financial situation.

In my view, at the European level, efforts should be concentrated on providing programs for low-income households to reach energy savings and to help them to get access to renewable energy investments. The latter would allow them to diversify their own energy sources and to build energy autonomy at a household level.

We need programmes that do not require an own contribution from disadvantaged households, as savings that they will be able to achieve via energy modernisation will cover their loan instalments. We also need low-cost micro projects targeted at the most vulnerable groups.

Hungary: a positive initiative against a difficult background

To give you examples from my home country, according to a recent study, 75-85% of households in Hungary do not have any savings; 80% of those households planning energy related investments would not receive a bank loan to cover the investment costs. As recent Eurostat reports show, in 2013 33.5% of the residents in Hungary were living at risk of poverty or social exclusion and the number of those living under the poverty line is 1.363 million. More importantly in Hungary – in many cases as a result of misusing EU funds – the gap between the richest and the poorest is bigger than ever: as the Bertelsmann Foundation states in its report “Social Justice in the EU – A Cross-national Comparison” Hungary is the 25th out of 28 EU countries in the field of social cohesion and non-discrimination.

Nevertheless, I can also showcase a best practice example based on a participatory approach. The “Fényhozók” (“Light bringers”) project aims to provide simple, DIY energy solutions using solar energy for vulnerable Roma households in Hungary.

Source: greeneuropeanjournal.eu

Within this programme, the students and alumni of the Romaversitas Foundation provide help to the most vulnerable families living in ghettos in establishing Self-Financing Communities. The goals are tangible: to equip the poorest houses with solar panels, LED lightning and accumulators; to find the most efficient and sustainable techniques for heating as well as to disseminate the necessary knowledge among the people with lowest education. Besides these very concrete goals the program focuses on the empowerment of communities’ through decreasing the families’ dependency from service providers.

Having some insight into the use of EU funds in Hungary and the current priorities of the Hungarian Environmental and Energy Efficiency Operational Programme in particular, I can remark that alleviating fuel poverty is not an integral part of the Programme, and there is a high risk of EU-co-funded developments actually resulting in growing disparities. As many good European examples show us, EU funds could and also should be diverted towards energy efficiency programs planned, implemented and run by (poor) local communities. It is essential to pay special attention to the question by EU bodies, decision makers and even experts working in any of the related fields.

Widening access to energy

There is a threefold challenge that Europe’s energy policy needs to tackle, and here I argued for a need to intelligently reframe the energy agenda by combining green energy efforts with the alleviation of energy poverty.

We should build on the momentum of the energy security efforts, and we definitely need an ambitious policy framework that provides proper incentives, brings about behaviour change and at the same time, provides benefits for the wider public. While mainstreaming sustainable technologies, new solutions should follow with a view to reducing disparities in the EU.

Energy savings, efficiency and sustainable sources have to be fundamental elements of a renewed, common European energy policy. I also argue for a decentralised energy system which is based on the ‘prosumer’ (consumer and provider at the same time) concept which requires clearly distinctive developments, investments and infrastructural priorities in comparison to a traditional energy network.

In addition to this, we should look far beyond progress in terms of infrastructure, systems, and technologies, and also aim for providing better services and above all, improving accessibility to these in the widest sense.

The “Fényhozók” (“Light bringers”) project of the Romaversitas Foundation provides a good example for all the above aspects.