The report was drafted by the MEP Terry Reintke at the proposal of the Committee of Regional Development of the European Parliament. EURoma has contributed to the report by sharing the experience gained in the 2007-2013 period and providing input on the draft versions of the report.
On 24 November the European Parliament adopted in plenary the Resolution “Cohesion Policy and marginalized communities” (2014/2247 (INI)), at the proposal of the Committee of Regional Development of the European Parliament. EURoma has contributed to the report by sharing the experience gained in the context of the Network on the use of Structural Funds for Roma inclusion (in the context of bilateral contacts and the different events organized to collect ideas and expertise) and providing input on the draft versions of the report.
The report recalls the urgent need to tackle the social situation of marginalised communities, underlining the important role of cohesion policy in supporting their economic, social and territorial inclusion.
It reminds that marginalised communities were introduced as a focus of cohesion policy measures because of the growing concern about, and commitment to combat, social exclusion, including concern about the situation of Roma and the longstanding demand to improve their living conditions. In this sense it welcomes the fact that the legislative framework for cohesion policy 2014-2020 introduced new elements which consolidate the initial approach by extending funding opportunities and inserting mechanisms to ensure that support for marginalised communities complies with European values and objectives and takes into account the need to involve those groups in the whole process.
Against this background, the report makes an analysis of the use of Structural Funds during the past programming period (2007-2013) and makes recommendations to the European Commission and Member States to promote the use of these European resources during the next programming period (2014-2020).
Among the recommendations, the European Parliament:
- Calls for better coordination and stronger links between national strategies for marginalised communities, including National Roma Inclusion Strategies, National Poverty Reduction Strategies, strategies for the inclusion of other marginalized or less favoured communities, and gender equality strategies with cohesion policy.
- Urges the Commission and the Member States to ensure the involvement of partners, including those most concerned, and to implement a system of incentives and exchange of best practices, including specific support to those managing authorities and beneficiaries that have had particularly good results in this area.
- Calls on the Member States to act on, and on the Commission to follow up closely, the country-specific recommendations issued on the social inclusion of marginalized communities.
- Emphasises the need for a special focus on funding measures that go beyond targeted action under the thematic objective for social inclusion, combating poverty and any discrimination, favouring an integrated and systematic approach.
- Raises awareness of the fact that xenophobia and racism, and all types of marginalisation leading to systemic exclusion, including anti-Gypsyism, must be eliminated.
- Points to the importance of an integrated approach and of the use of the funds in a more integrated way, including by means of multi-fund programmes, Community-Led Local Development , Integrated Territorial Investment and cross-financing.
- Underlines the need to build up the capacity of the stakeholders, including public services, administrations and civil-society bodies, with a view of empowering communities, notably by allowing them to take greater part in policy making; calls for targeted technical assistance and funding to be used also to this end.
- Calls on the Member States to provide advice and administrative assistance, e.g. by organising training and by helping with aid applications and explanations, so as to make it easier for marginalised communities such as Roma to obtain information concerning European and national funding programmes in support of entrepreneurship and employment and to submit the relevant applications.
- Points out that, in partnership with representatives of marginalised communities, the Commission, after giving guidance on the definition of marginalised communities, should set up an
ad hoc expert group for advice, and promote appropriate training for administrative staff, in order to provide specific knowledge of the difficulties facing marginalised communities, and to combat discriminatory practices, with a view to fostering inclusion through constructive and effective dialogue, and to implementing and monitoring EU-funded projects related to marginalised communities in an integrated and effective way, thereby maximising their impact.
- Points out that EU-funded projects must have a long-term perspective in order to be effective, and that the funds must support investment in the actual needs of the beneficiaries, with mechanisms to ensure that target groups are reached and to address exclusion and marginalisation.
- Calls for qualitative evaluation and monitoring mechanisms. It calls on the Commission to put in place proactive and participatory mechanisms for monitoring and observing Members States’ actions in the planning and evaluation processes for funds used for marginalised communities;
- Underlines that representatives of marginalised communities need to be actively involved, and enabled to participate as full members, in monitoring arrangements.
- Calls on the Commission and Member States to analyse all existing best practices, including innovative ones related to the inclusion of marginalised groups and individuals into society, and to
initiate networking activities, including among social, youth and community workers as well as among academics and researchers. It stresses the need for a network platform at EU level
facilitating the exchange of best practices and joint problem solving that could serve as well as an e-learning facility for capacity building;
The European Parliament would like to play an active role in the 2014-2020 programming period in ensuring that the actions developed with European Structural and Investment Funds reach the most disadvantaged groups, among them the Roma community. This approach offers a strategic opportunity for the improvement of the situation of the Roma community in situation of exclusion.
The text is available in all EU languages here