On 12 February 2019, the plenary of the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on the need to strengthen the European Framework for National Roma Inclusion Strategies (NRIS) after 2020 and to step up the fight against anti-gypsyism. This document aims to provide guidance to the European Commission in the development of the post-2020 European Framework and to the Member States in the subsequent design of their National Strategies.
This Resolution builds upon the specific discrimination faced by European Roma (anti-Gypsyism), who are still being deprived of their basic human rights, and the fact that, in line with the recently published European Commission’s mid-term evaluation of the European Framework, the ambition of putting an end to the exclusion of Roma has not been achieved (although the framework has been key for the development of EU and national instruments and structures aiming to promote Roma inclusion).
It is considered that while EU action provides an important added value to national Roma policies and their implementation through political, governance and financial areas, progress achieved is limited overall. The school segregation, the limited medical coverage, the access to employment (with the share of young Roma not in employment, education or training even increased) and housing or the reduction of poverty are still serious concerns. In addition, according to the Parliament, targeted actions covered by Structural Funds have failed to make sustainable positive changes in the lives of most disadvantaged groups and most mainstream programmes are inclusive with Roma.
In this context, the European Parliament puts forward to the European Commission and Member States a number of proposals to address the situation. In general terms, the Parliament calls on the European Commission to propose a Strategic EU Framework and on the Member States to prepare NRIS with a wider set of priority areas, clear and binding targets, timelines and indicators for monitoring and addressing the specific challenges and reflecting the diversity of Roma communities, and allocating substantial public funds to this end.
EURoma welcomes the European Parliament’s proposal to develop further efforts to ensure the inclusiveness of the mainstream public policies of the Member States under the European Semester within the framework of the Europe 2020 strategy and to maintain a strong link between inclusive structural reforms, the delivery of Roma inclusion goals and the use of EU funding in the Member States. It also calls for the use of available ESI Funds to improve the living conditions and life chances of Roma in a transparent and accountable manner, taking the necessary steps to secure the absorption of all the funds targeting Roma communities, including by the end of the current multiannual financial framework.
As highlighted in the European Commission mid-term evaluation, adopting a twin strategy that combines the consideration of Roma people in mainstream policies in areas such as employment, education, health and housing, together with targeted measures to overcome the specific disadvantages and guarantee an effective equal access in all fields is essential to advance towards equality, social inclusion and non-discrimination of the Roma population in the EU.
In addition, fostering the alignment, complementarity and coordination between the NRIS and the EU funding, notably the ESI Funds (as key financial and political instrument to promote Roma inclusion and develop NRIS) is crucial achieve success. This should happen at vertical (national, regional and local levels) as well as at horizontal level. ESI Funds offer a wide range of opportunities and tools to promote social inclusion and non-discrimination of Roma across EU that should be maximised, both in this programming period (through the use of ESF I.P. 9.2. but also beyond this investment priority, within ESF but also ERDF and EARDF).
Finally, it is of key importance to reinforce the coherence between the EU Framework and other policies, both at EU and international level, as well as to intensify the connection between policy priorities and the EU funding, including European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds).
National Roma Contact Points should play a pivotal role in this sense by mobilising actors in charge of mainstream policies and to align ESI Funds and Roma policies. Therefore EURoma very much welcomes the Parliament’s proposal to strengthen the National Roma Contact Points in terms of their mandate, institutional capacity, human resources and budget and to ensure appropriate positioning of NRCPs within the structure of their public administrations in order to enable them to carry out their work through effective cross-sectoral coordination.
The sufficient involvement of Roma representatives, communities, NGOs and equality bodies in the design of the Strategic EU Framework/NRIS as well as to enable their meaningful participation in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation, thus strengthening their ownership, is another relevant proposal as it is an element for success. To this end, it is important to advance towards structured mechanisms to involve stakeholders and establish processes and methods that allow for an active and quality partnership (going beyond mere informative sessions and moving towards real consultation and partnership), to develop mechanisms for the systematic monitoring and evaluation of stakeholder involvement and to foster the capacity of stakeholders to get involved. Quality performance of actors involved as regards core aspects for the effective implementation of Roma inclusion programmes should also be promoted. The possibilities to use ESI Funds Technical Assistance as financial resources to this end should be considered.
The Parliament also calls to pay further attention to the fight against anti-Gypsyism, including by adding a specific non-discrimination goal, along with other goals, in line with European Commission’s mid-term evaluation, which sets that action related to discrimination and anti-gypsyism should complement, and not replace action in the current Roma inclusion goals (employment, education, housing and health), which contribute to ensure that Roma people enjoy from the same opportunities as the rest of the population.
Other proposals put forward by the European Parliament include:
- Ensuring that multiple and intersectional discrimination, gender mainstreaming and a child-sensitive approach are properly addressed in the Strategic EU Framework/Strategies. It also calls Member States to explicitly consider children as a priority when programming and implementing their NRIS and reiterates the importance of protecting and promoting equal access to all rights for Roma children;
- Strengthening the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) in terms of its mandate, institutional capacity, human resources and budget in order to enable it to help the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the National Roma Inclusion Strategies;
- Paying attention to specific groups within the Roma population in the Strategic EU Framework/Strategies, such as EU Roma exercising their right to freedom of movement and non-EU nationals, including Roma from accession countries;
- Include a truth, recognition and reconciliation process in the Strategic EU Framework/Strategies for the sake of trust-building, and to highlight concrete cultural and structural measures and initiatives, supported by EU/public funds;
European Parliament Resolution on the need for a strengthened post-2020 Strategic EU Framework for National Roma Inclusion Strategies and stepping up the fight against anti-Gypsyism (2019/2509(RSP))
EURoma contribution to assessment of EU Framework NRIS