Who are Roma?
'Roma' is an umbrella term to describe groups of people with similar cultural characteristics including those who describe themselves for example as Roma, Sinti, Gypsies and Kalé.
Roma have lived in Europe for over 1,000 years since originally migrating from India and are the largest minority in Europe. There are an estimated 10 - 12 million Roma in Europe, of which about 6 million live in the European Union.
The majority of Roma living in the European Union are citizens of the European Union and have exactly the same rights as other European citizens. These rights are laid out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. In each country of Europe, Roma should have the same rights as other citizens and should be treated equally without discrimination.
Some Roma living in the European Union are legally-residing 'third country nationals' (migrants from outside the EU) and have the same rights as other third country nationals.
Discrimination and its effects
Discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic origins is prohibited by the Directive on Racial Equality in the European Union and is illegal in all EU member states. However, discrimination against Roma has a long history in Europe and continues.
Many Roma in Europe face prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and exclusion in their daily lives. This has many effects on Roma, including:
- Roma have a life expectancy 10 years lower than other European citizens.
- Roma child mortality rates are between 2 and 6 times higher than the general population of Europe.
- Less than half of Roma children complete primary school and a very low number attend secondary school.
- Employment rates are lower for Roma than the general population.
- Housing is often poor, with inadequate access to services.