This crisis is placing broad layers of the European Roma in a serious situation of vulnerability, helplessness and lack of protection of their fundamental rights.
Roma are overrepresented among the most vulnerable people in the European Union and are, therefore, most likely to suffer from the negative impact of any crisis, including the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This crisis is already placing broad layers of the European Roma in a serious situation of vulnerability, helplessness and lack of protection of their fundamental rights.
In this emergency context, it is urgent to pay special attention to the most disadvantaged social groups and to mobilise all the political and financial tools to put in place emergency measures to prevent, avoid and alleviate the negative impact of this health crisis on those persons most affected by poverty, social exclusion and marginalisation, as it is the case of many Roma people across the EU.
While in its initial phases it was essential to inform and promote prevention and containment health measures, now it is also highly important to face the new and upcoming complex scenario in which new social risks are combined and added to the health situation and the previous situation of high vulnerability that the Roma population drag.
Reaction from European institutions
We are glad to see that the European Commission has reacted in this regard and set out on 13 March an EU coordinated response to counter the economic impact of the Coronavirus providing a set of measures that will ensure national support measures to tackle the outbreak of the COVID-19 as soon as possible. One of the most important measures refer to the mobilisation of the EU budget so that its existing instruments can serve to alleviate the negative impact of the health crisis. Cohesion Policy funding and the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) play a central role in the first package of measures adopted as part of the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative. In addition, on 2 April the Commission launched the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus (CRII+) to complement the measures adopted under the first package by introducing extraordinary flexibility to allow that all non-utilised support from the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) can be fully mobilised.
As part of the EU’s joint response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the European Parliament also adopted, almost unanimously, its position on the Commission’s proposals on 26 March. Following the formal approval of the measures by the European Council on 30 March, they were published in the Official Journal on 31 March and entered into force on the day after.
Impact of the COVID-crisis on marginalised communities such as Roma and the role of political and financial instruments
In this context, it would be important to have further information on how this urgent and complex COVID-19 crisis is affecting marginalised communities such as Roma on the one hand and whether and how ESI Funds are being used or plan to be used to specifically address this situation on the other. EURoma will contribute to this process by gathering information among its members on the use of ESI Funds to deal with the negative impact of this crisis of marginalised Roma.