The Parliament calls for action at national and EU level, including the launch of an EU action plan to eradicate Roma settlements by 2030.
On 5 October the European Parliament adopted, by large majority (486 votes in favour, 109 against and 38 abstentions), a Resolution on the situation of Roma people living in settlements in the EU. The Resolution stresses key challenges faced by Roma living in these contexts (in areas such as housing, education, health, employment and social inclusion) and calls for action at national and EU level to address the situation. The Parliament also pays particular attention to the use of EU and national funding and includes a series of recommendations to Member States and the European Commission.
With this Resolution, the European Parliament takes a significant step forward as regards the improvement of the living conditions and the equal opportunities of the many Roma people that face severe residential exclusion and poverty in these informal and segregated settlements across the European Union.
The Parliament acknowledges, among many other things, that “an unacceptably high number of Roma people in Europe still live in poverty and are socially excluded, enduring extremely precarious, unsafe and overcrowded living conditions in segregated rural and urban areas”. In this sense, it makes a call to the European Commission and the Member states to remedy this situation through strategies supported by the proper funding, particularly the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and National Recovery and Resilience plans.
The Recommendation includes:
1.Ideas on the situation of Roma
- Housing: focuses on desegregated housing and on addressing the problem on a centralised, national level while working in close cooperation with local and regional authorities.
- Education: gives a great importance to preschool education, to the segregation of Roma children in education, and how Roma-majority schools are usually not funded properly, and to an inclusive digital education and to support the education of Roma women and girls (with a focus on STEM).
- Health and environment: shows its concern for the high infant mortality rates in Roma populations (calling for a proper implementation and monitoring of the European Child Guarantee), while calls on to support health awareness and healthy living conditions in deprived communities (particularly, in Roma settlements, emphasising the environmental risks of their inhabitants), asking Member States to support equality bodies to fight intersectional discrimination, which often affects Roma.
- Employment and social inclusion: addresses the long unemployment and the situation of NEETs in Roma settlements and the vocational training, national minimum income and the social economy as paths for tackling the situation, with a special mention to the role of community centres, to pay attention to youth employment (reinforced Youth Guarantee). Also mentions the need to assure the protection of children in marginalised Roma settlements, the importance of disaggregated equality data and of the presence of Roma workers in quality jobs.
2. A call for action
- At national level: shows its concern for the fact that in the EU still are people without access to basic services and for the gap between the declarations and commitments on a strong social Europe and the reality on the ground, urging the Commission and Member States to address the situation of Roma people living in settlements.
- At EU level: among the actions proposed, it is particularly relevant the call on the European Commission to step up its efforts to gradually eradicate marginalised Roma settlements across the EU by launching an EU action plan to eradicate Roma settlements by 2030. This action plan should provide guidelines, establish priorities and concrete targets and envisage a component of transnational cooperation and exchange of positive practices between Member States. Other proposals include: the creation of the post of Commission coordinator for Roma inclusion and equality and Parliament coordinator for Roma inclusion; a call to the Commission to assure the full and correct implementation of EU law (preventing violations of human rights and the misuse of EU funds supporting discriminatory practices; the need for including qualitative evaluation of the projects; the attention to be given to intersectional discrimination and for regular missions to examine the situation of Roma people living in settlements; the participation of Roma in public policies, the fight against antigypsyism, while emphasises the need to acknowledge the cultural and linguistic heritage of Roma people; the need to coordinate efforts with the Council of Europe and stresses the importance of instruments as Erasmus Plus and the Youth Guarantee…
Use of EU and national funding
- Expresses its concern that in some Member States, the use of resources earmarked for Roma people has been low thus far and regrets that current systems and conditions set for drawing down ESIF in a number of Member States do not allow for their smooth and efficient absorption, often owing to bureaucratic and structural barriers in national systems. It also points to a lack of political will in some local authorities in the Member States who are reluctant to implement new projects to improve the living conditions of Roma people in settlements. it also notes that it often takes generations to achieve significant progress in socio-economic empowerment and Roma integration;
In this sense, it:
- Calls on the Member States to urgently make full use of available funding instruments and resources at both national and EU level to create favourable conditions for the sustainable funding and implementation of continuous programmes and projects in an efficient, integrated, coordinated and flexible way and eliminate any obstacles, including direct and indirect forms of discrimination, that hinder the absorption of funding, in particular the ESF+, the European Regional Development Fund and the Recovery and Resilience Facility;
- Calls on the Member States and the Commission to urgently increase funding for the European Child Guarantee with a dedicated budget of at least EUR 20 billion in order to combat the poverty that is affecting children and their families and to contribute to the goal of reducing poverty by at least 15 million by 2030 – including at least 5 million children across all the Member States;
- Recalls the need to reduce administrative burden, promote the use of simplified cost options and provide further assistance and flexibility, including direct distribution of funds to regional and local policies and civil society programmes to make it easier for managing authorities and beneficiaries responding to the immediate needs of Roma people living in settlements in the EU to use them;
- Calls on the Member States and their managing authorities to pay special attention to the localities that are reluctant to implement new projects to improve the living conditions of Roma people in settlements and to implement strategies to motivate them to change their negative approach, including through possible conditionality mechanisms. It further calls on the Member States to remove any structural barrier that may hinder the implementation of projects by local authorities and civil society and to offer clear support instruments to local authorities to help them engage in new projects focused on Roma people living in settlements and their wider community. It also stresses, in this regard, the need to ensure Roma political participation and representation at all levels and to tackle harmful negative stereotypes which fuel discriminatory attitudes and behaviours among the non-Roma population:
- Calls on the Commission to support, monitor and evaluate the Member States’ actions in this regard through their national recovery and resilience plans, national Roma strategic frameworks, European Child Guarantee national action plans, the EU anti-racism action plan and European Semester country-specific recommendations; calls on the Commission and Member States, in particular, to ensure that EU measures and funding reach Roma people living in settlements and emphasises that targeted actions and initiatives should be primarily based on the bottom-up principle and come from the local level and municipalities that are closest to the communities in question, with financial and administrative assistance supported at the national or EU level;
- Calls on the Member States, in this regard, to make better use of available financial resources for technical assistance and to ensure that direct technical assistance is widely provided to both administrators and specific applicants; urges the Commission to make sure that the identification of settlements and specific policies and measures to address their situations are incorporated in the 2021-2027 EU cohesion fund programmes and European Semester country-specific recommendations;
- Calls for a comprehensive and in-depth impact and performance analysis by the European Court of Auditors of the use of ESIF, especially the ESF+ and the European Regional Development Fund, for the years since the EU strategy for Roma inclusion was established in 2011, with a particular focus on spending on Roma settlements and related social issues.
- European Parliament resolution of 5 October 2022 on the situation of Roma people living in settlements in the EU (2022/2662(RSP) (available in all EU languages)