This forum, which gathered stakeholders from all over Europe, served to confirm the interest of the European Commission in continuing the work for Roma inclusion and renew the commitment of the new government of the European institutions to take steps to improve the living conditions of the Roma community.
The 9th European Platform for Roma Inclusion gathered on 16-17 March more than 200 participants among whom were representatives of governments of Member States, European Institutions, international organisations, civil society organizations, and representatives of the EURoma Technical Secretariat. The European Commission was represented at the highest political level through the Commissioner for Justice, the Czech Vera Jourová, maximum responsible for the coordination of policies towards the Roma community.
With this event, the European Commission confirms its interest in continuing to work for the integration of Roma, as well as the commitment of the new government of the European institution to continue taking steps to improve the living conditions of the European Roma community.
The first day, working sessions were held, in which topics discussed were agreed in previous meetings between the European Commission and organizations working for Roma inclusion. In particular the topics were:
- Fighting discrimination and antigypsysm
Despite existing legislation in the EU, discrimination against Roma is a daily fact. This situation calls for an effort to ensure equal treatment and the achievement of fundamental rights and the recognition of anti-Gypsyism at all levels.
The recommendations given in this working group were classified in 8 thematic groups: strengthening antidiscrimination laws, education, political participation and leadership, human rights and citizenship, change of discourse, cooperation among stakeholders, promotion of Roma institutions and the inclusion of anti-Gypsyism in Roma integration strategies.
- Enhancing multi-stakeholder cooperation
The discussions focused on two main issues: first, the need to strengthen the links between Roma specific policies and general policies. Second, the roles, responsibilities and presentation of the results of the stakeholders in Roma integration at local, national and European level and how to improve these links between them with a view to implementing and achieving tangible impacts on the lives of Roma.
In the first of the issues discussed within this working group “How to link the political and legal frameworks to address social exclusion and discrimination?” participants agreed that both social inclusion and discrimination must be tackled together and not separately. The participants concluded that a better use of existing equality rights is needed in order to guarantee Roma equal access to opportunities. In addition, clear action plans are needed and applied on the basis of existing similar positive experiences.
The second of the topics discussed was “The creation of platforms for cooperation linking the local and national level and thus allowing connections at European level”. The need of effective coordination to ensure collaboration among all stakeholders was confirmed. This will require full and open participation, starting with a mapping of all stakeholders and their respective responsibilities to agree mechanisms to ensure accountability. National platforms should operate as networks linking stakeholders in each institution in a permanent way.
The second day was organised into a plenary session. The first political panel was composed of the Ministers Alice Bah Kuhnke, Jiří Dienstbier and Corinne Cahen (Sweden, Czech Republic and Luxembourg respectively), MEP Soraya Post and Costel Bercus, as representative of civil society. The second panel of speakers included the Hungarian Minister Zoltan Balog, deputy ministers Codrin Zornitsa from Hungary and Roussinova Scutaru from Romania, the MEP Damian Draghici and the representative of the Roma civil society Deyan Kolev. The third panel of speakers focused on the way forward for the Platform in future editions.
The closure was given by the Commissioner Cratu cabinet, responsible for Regional Development. He highlighted the links between policy priorities and EU funding for 2014-2020. The Permanent Representative of the Slovak Republic in the European Union announced that the integration of the Roma will be one of the priorities to be addressed during the EU Slovak presidency in the second semester of 2016.
Conclusions of the 9th European Platform for Roma Integration:
- Discrimination and racism against Roma are structural barriers that are in conflict with the fundamental values of the European Union and impeding the integration of Roma.
- The fight against the growing level of intolerance against Roma should start in school education and requires an inclusive reform of educational systems.
- It is important to strengthen the work between the stakeholders involved in Roma integration at national and local level. National Platforms supported by the European Commission could develop such process.
- The European Platform should focus on key thematic issues (eg, inclusive education, employment, anti-discrimination …) and must be closely linked to the National Strategies for Roma Inclusion.
- Should ensure inclusive and open participation to all stakeholders, both National Platforms and European Platforms.
More information about the Platform meeting and the main conclusions is available here