Adopted under the leadership of the Spanish EU Presidency, this Council Conclusions represent a relevant step forward by putting on the political agenda the situation faced by many Roma as regards the equal access to adequate and desegregated housing (and notably the residential segregation that affect them) and by including a definition of “segregated settlements”. The Conclusions calls for the use of EU financial instruments, together with national, regional and local sources of funding, to improve housing conditions and to support the eradication of housing segregation.
Following the Council Recommendation on Roma equality, inclusion and participation adopted in 2021, these Council Conclusions address the key issue of housing, with the aim of contributing to improve the housing situation of Roma and to eradicate segregation, in accordance with the National Roma Strategic Frameworks developed under the existing EU policy framework in this area.
An important point of the adopted text is that, for the first time in an EU regulatory framework, there is a consensus on a definition of “segregated settlements” (i.e. slums and substandard housing settlements of an informal and stable nature, with physical, functional and/or social isolation, where the objective conditions related to housing, poverty and access to rights and public services are significantly worse as compared to the rest of the population), which should contribute to a common understanding and framework of the situation.
The Council Conclusions stress the persistence of the gap in access to housing between groups in vulnerable situations, including Roma, and the rest of the population due to factors such as poverty and social exclusion, the lack of significant policy measures or investments, the limited availability and poor quality of social housing, discrimination in the housing market and segregation. The Council recognises that “the obstacles that Roma people often encounter when seeking access to adequate housing reinforces the vicious circle of intergenerational poverty and violations of human rights”. Furthermore, it points to the fact that “Antigypsyism is an unusually prevalent form of racism […]. The Member States of the European Union have all recognised antigypsyism as a barrier to inclusion, and hence the importance of tackling it.”
According to the Council, despite the existing political, financial and legal instruments and the efforts already made to address the housing inequality and deprivation experienced by Roma, inequalities in access to housing for Roma still persist in a number of Member States.
Transnational cooperation and mutual learning are highlighted are essential to the process of eradicating housing segregation against Roma, including in order to improve housing conditions for nomadic Roma in Member States where these communities exist, as well as EU-mobile Roma who take up seasonal or short-term employment opportunities.
Against this background, the Council invites the Member States to:
- In accordance with their respective national Roma strategies, “take concrete measures to improve the housing situation of Roma and to eradicate housing segregation where segregated Roma settlements exist”, making use of the different financial tools available at European and national level for this purpose, including ESF+ and ERDF, as well as instruments and initiatives under NextGenerationEU and InvestEU. It stresses the importance of ensuring effective complementarity in the use of the various funding sources.
- Dedicate adequate financial resources to establish, maintain or improve infrastructure as necessary in disadvantaged neighbourhoods in terms of essential services (e.g. transport, water and sanitation, sewage systems, digital networks), and access to public and private services (such as refuse collection, health centres, schools, lighting, electricity, gas, and communication networks including telephone and internet connections), while considering the use of innovative, digital and green technologies. All interventions should be accompanied by active desegregation measures.
- Where Roma face difficulties when seeking to benefit from universal housing policies, implement housing initiatives for vulnerable Roma communities, as well as for other vulnerable communities, and include safeguards and inclusivity criteria within national Roma inclusion strategies.
- Offer information and training on equal treatment and combating antigypsyism and discrimination to relevant staff in housing services and in other sectors such as social services, education, employment and health services, and in local administrations.
- Ensure the participation in decision-making processes of families living in disadvantaged settlements, pursuing this work hand in hand with European Roma civil society.
- Identify available EU, national, regional and local financial resources to support the eradication of housing segregation affecting Roma.
It invites the European Commission to:
- Support Member States in their efforts to address the problem of housing segregation and deprivation, where they exist, in line with the Council Recommendation on Roma equality inclusion and participation (2021) and, where relevant, consider the European Parliament resolution on the situation of Roma people living in settlements in the EU” (which calls for action at national and EU level, including the launch of an EU action plan to eradicate Roma settlements by 2030) as well as the 2020-2030 EU Roma strategic framework for equality, inclusion and participation, including by considering and duly supporting implementation of EU funds invested in housing and infrastructure.
- Foster concrete actions to guarantee effective and real access for Roma to non-segregated housing, adopting an approach that recognizes that a person may be discriminated against on the grounds of their racial or ethnic origin, and simultaneously, on the grounds of their sex, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, and paying particular attention to youth and children, as well as to victims of any form of violence against women and human trafficking.
- Foster transnational cooperation and the sharing of good practice between Member States.
Furthermore, the Council also invites the European Commission and the Member States to “continue using the EU Roma Strategic Framework Portfolio of Indicators and pursuing the fulfilment of the EU level targets set out in the Framework, including, where relevant, quantitative and/or qualitative targets in their National Roma Strategic Frameworks.”. As well as “ensure […] the effective monitoring of spending programmes and instruments that aim to foster the desegregation of Roma communities.”