There are ten to twelve million Roma and Travellers in Europe spread across practically all the Council of Europe’s member countries. The Council of Europe’s main objective is to encourage its members to take a comprehensive approach to Roma issues. This involves three main priorities - protecting minorities, combating racism, anti-gypsyism and intolerance and preventing social exclusion. One of the fundamental principles guiding this approach is participation of the communities concerned, through Roma and Travellers representatives and associations. Since 1995, the Committee of Experts on Roma and Travellers (MG-S-ROM) has been tasked with advising member states and encouraging international authorities to take action where needed. Its role complements that of the Secretary General’s Co-ordinator of Activities concerning Roma, responsible for promoting co-operation with other relevant international organisations and developing working relations with Roma and Travellers issues organisations. (via Council of Europe | Roma and Travellers | Home)
- For centuries the Roma people, the largest ethnic minority in Europe, have been society’s scapegoats. The Nazis sent 1.5 million to concentration camps; last month a French MP was fined €3,000 (£2,500) for suggesting Hitler did not kill enough.
- Romania has the second-largest number of people who describe their ethnicity as Roma, after Turkey, which has 2.75 million. And forced evictions have taken place across the country - in Baia Mare, Piatra Neamt and, in September, in Eforie South.
- Bulgaria has the largest proportion - 10pc of their population are ethically Roma - and an estimated 200,000 live in Britain.
- In Western Europe, Spain has the largest number, with up to 750,000 Roma residents.
- But among Western nations it is France which has pursued the most active policy and controversial policy of evictions.
- The country has faced mounting criticism over its treatment of the Roma minority, having evicted a record 19,380 members of the community from camps in 2013.
- Last month, in unprecedented legal victory, a Romanian court ruled that every person who was forcibly evicted from Coastei Street should receive €2,000 compensation and be provided with adequate housing. Mr Boc’s government is appealing.
- inside the town hall, Oana Buzatu, spokesperson for Mr Boc, has little time for accusations that the government is racist. "We are far more tolerant than you guys," she said. "The children get free buses to school. Before they were living in slums anyway. "When they were moved to Pata Rat, it wasn’t that the land was bad and no one wanted to live there. It was just the only available area." Mrs Buzatu said that the government, with its €257m annual budget, spends a third on social projects, and was looking for solutions to the housing shortage. She said several families moved from Pata Rat into council houses each year. "We don’t see the Roma as a separate problem. They’re just people who need our help."
- Even Rotherham Council is involved - having signed partnership agreements with the town, they have sent delegations to advise on how to include Roma in the workforce. "We have similar experience of employability issues, given our mining and steel communities," said Simeon Leach, economic development manager for the council, in Cluj last month. "Getting people into work is a massive step, and I really do think they are trying. But social inclusion is never easy to achieve."
"It is very beautiful here - like that scene in American Beauty with plastic bags blowing on the breeze," said Petru Fechete, 30, who lives on the dump. "Only times the bags by a thousand and add the stench," he said with a laugh. "Before I was proud to live in the centre; I dressed smartly and held my head up high," he said in fluent English, having lived in London for three months. "But now I feel ashamed. I go for job interviews, and everything is fine until I have to give my address - then I’m told there is no job. We used to be part of society - now we are out here like savages."
"The two parties, who now form the Social-Liberal Union and will run together in elections, would win 59.4 percent, according to the May 9-15 survey of 1,038 people, Adevarul newspaper reported. It had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
Support for the current governing parties decreased from 61 percent in a May 2 poll done by pollster IRES and is higher than the 48.4 percent result the two parties had in an IMAS poll done in March, before Ponta took office. The former ruling Liberal Democratic Party would get 14.5 percent of the votes, down from 15 percent in May 2, the survey showed."
The annual Paying Taxes survey from the World Bank Group (part of its larger Doing Business report) indicates that Romanian businesses last year could be asked to make up to a total of 113 separate tax payments – significantly in excess of the average 13 payments per year made by companies in OECD high-income countries. The annual World Bank Doing Business report assesses regulations affecting domestic firms in 183 economies, ranking each on the basis of various criteria including ease of starting a business, insolvency resolution, cross-border trade and, for the first time, ease of access to electricity. Russell Bedford member firms have contributed to the report’s Paying Taxes survey since 2009, with 51 member and correspondent firms this year contributing data on tax regulation, compliance and the real tax burden on businesses and entrepreneurs. It’s not all grim reading, however. This year’s report, Doing Business 2012: Doing Business in a More Transparent World, makes clear that the emerging economies of Eastern Europe and Central Asia have done most to reduce the tax burden on companies – in terms of both reducing compliance requirements and lowering the total tax rate – and cites Romania as among those countries having merged or eliminated taxes other than profit tax. Moreover, while Romanian companies may be subject to a greater number of individual payments, the amount of time this takes is not that much greater than that of their west European peers. Romanian firms spend an average of 222 hours per year on tax compliance, compared to 186 hours for businesses in OECD high-income countries.