Strasbourg, 23 September 2003 MG-S-ROM (2003) extra meeting 1 rev.
SPECIALIST GROUP ON ROMA, GYPSIES AND TRAVELLERS
17 September 2003
MG-S-ROM opinion on the Finnish initiative and the French-Finnish contribution on the European Forum for Roma and Travellers
[document GT-ROMS(2003) 6]
The Group of Specialists on Roma, Gypsies and Travellers (MG-S-ROM) supports the French-Finnish contribution which it considers to be a sound basis for further discussion1. The MG-S-ROM wants to underline that the Roma, Sinti and Traveller representatives attending the extraordinary meeting of the Group expressed their full and unreserved support to the above contribution.
The MG-S-ROM stresses that the forum should be open to all Roma, Sinti, Travellers and related groups.
The MG-S-ROM would like to raise the following non exhaustive issues to the GT-ROMS:
· The MG-S-ROM discussed the topic of independence of this future body and how this can be guaranteed in an association financed by member States.
· Some members are concerned about the fact that the French-Finnish contribution does not take into account national representation and proportionality.
· The MG-S-ROM would welcome clarification about the competence of the European Forum for Roma and Travellers vis-à-vis other international organisations dealing with Roma issues.
· The MG-S-ROM would like to have a clear picture of the financial implications of the European Forum for Roma and Travellers and stresses very strongly that any competition at the financial level between the European Forum for Roma and Travellers and the MG-S-ROM should be avoided.2
· When discussing the objectives as described in the French-Finnish contribution some delegations did not have a clear picture about the legitimacy to influence decisions at the local level. They wonder how the opinions produced by the European Forum for Roma and Travellers can be forwarded to the decision-makers at the local level3.
The meeting report of the extraordinary MG-S-ROM will be distributed to the GT-ROMS.
1 The German delegation would prefer the following wording : the MG-S-ROM notes with interest the Finnish initiative and the French-Finnish contribution which it considers to be a sound basis for further discussion.
The Czech delegation feels that the role of member States in the formation of the European Forum for Roma and Travellers needs to be clarified. Their participation in the process cannot be ruled out at the current stage.
2 The representative of the Russian Federation made a following reservation. “The Russian side expresses its sincere support for the initiative by President of Finland Mrs Tarja Halonen on setting up a European Forum for Roma and Travellers with the reservation concerning financial consequences of this initiative. Bearing in mind Russian position on zero growth of the Council of Europe regular budget, the Russian Federation insists that the setting-up of the Forum and ensuring its various activities must be financed through restructuring of the financial resources of the General Directorate of Social Cohesion, appropriate reduction of operational expenses of the CoE and primarily from voluntary contributions provided by member States, international organisations and private foundations. We would appreciate having the above-mentioned position of the Russian Federation recorded in all documents on the subject of the European Forum for Roma and Travellers”.
3 In terms of sovereignty, the Dutch delegation is concerned that the association is given “a say - or a right at least right of criticism – on local policies on sensitive issues (housing, health, etc.), which are even in the European Union still largely national.”