Roma inclusion: 10 years to wait until full equality in the EU?

Roma inclusion: 10 years to wait until full equality in the EU?
Vice-President Vera Jourová, (to the left) and Commissioner Helena Dalli, announcing the Roma strategic framework, credit: EU, 2020

The EU Council adopted last week a Commission proposal on Roma equality, inclusion and participation in the EU member states.

The proposal was part of a 10-year action plan and strategic framework announced by the European Commission last October to support Roma in the EU. The plan covers seven key areas of focus: equality, inclusion, participation, education, employment, health, and housing. In all areas, the Roma are lagging far behind the majority population as the minimum targets set for 2030 indicate.

While the responsibility for implementing the plan lies on the member states, this time the Commission will strengthen its monitoring. For each area, the Commission has put forward new targets and recommendations for member states on how to achieve them, both of which will serve as tools to monitor progress.

“Commitment to equality for all is key for us to address the COVID-19 pandemic effectively and recover at the earliest,” said Helena Dalli, Commissioner for Equality (15 March).”

“The adoption of this Recommendation clearly demonstrates Member States’ dedication to address the multiple challenges faced by Roma communities across the EU. The Recommendation will guide us to achieve measurable results over the next ten years and to tackle longstanding injustices, discrimination and exclusion.”

Helena Dalli will give a key note speech on Friday morning (19 March) at the Summit Against Racism. The summit will address the implementation of the European Anti-Racism Action Plan at various levels with the involvement of EU Institutions, Member States, civil society, equality bodies and grassroots organisations.

The minimum targets for 2030 include:

  • Cutting the proportion of Roma with experience of discrimination by at least half;
  • Doubling the proportion of Roma filing a report when experiencing discrimination;
  • Reducing the poverty gap between Roma and general population by at least half;
  • Cutting the gap in participation in early childhood education by at least half;
  • Cutting the proportion of Roma children who attend segregated primary schools by at least half in Member States with a significant Roma population;
  • Cutting the employment gap and the gender employment gap by at least half;
  • Cutting the gap in life expectancy by at least half;
  • Reducing the gap in housing deprivation by at least one third;
  • Ensuring that at least 95% of Roma have access to tap water.

A European coalition of Roma and pro-Roma organisations welcomed the adoption of the Council Recommendation and expressed cautious optimism that it will make a difference during next decade.

“We are happy to see such a strong EU Council Recommendation on Roma,” said Gabriela Hrabanova, Director of the European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network (ERGO Network).

“It is now up to Member States to demonstrate a real commitment to tackling antigypsyism – as specific form of racism against Roma people – with a focus on non-discrimination, civil society participation and fighting poverty and social exclusion of Roma. This is a timely political moment for governments to be bold and far-reaching in their policy and funding proposals on Roma.”

The Roma are Europe’s largest ethnic minority. Out of an estimated 10-12 million Roma in Europe, some 6 million live in the EU, subjected to discrimination and lagging behind the majority populations in every sphere of society.

Adriatik Hasantari, Director of the Roma Active Albania, added that he expects that, “Enlargement and Neighbourhood countries to follow the example and adopt national Roma strategic frameworks and targeted policies prioritising the fight against antigypsyism and improving the situation of Roma women and children, who are often the most vulnerable to discrimination and social marginalisation”.

M. Apelblat

The Brussels Times

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