The compromise text includes different mentions to Roma, marginalised communities and disadvantaged groups, including the Specific Objective (iii) ‘promoting the socioeconomic inclusion of marginalised communities, low income households and disadvantaged groups including people with special needs, through integrated actions including housing and social services’. 

We are in the final stages of the discussions on the 2021-2027 European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund (ERDF-CF), which is planned to be adopted and enter into force at the end of June, together with the other regulations related to the cohesion policy.

Following the provisional political agreement reached by the European Parliament and the European Council in December 2020 and the technical and political work on the remaining aspects in the first months of 2021 during the Portuguese Presidency, a final political trilogue between the Council and the European Parliament took place on 9 February with the aim of confirming the political agreement of both institutions. Subsequently, the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) has been invited to endorse the final compromise text of the ERDF-CF Regulation, which was supported by the majority of Member States.

With a budget of close to €234 billion (in 2018 prices), the overarching policy objective of the ERDF-CF Regulation is to strengthen the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the Union, by reducing disparities between the various EU regions. The ERDF-CF regulation aims to enable investments in a smarter, greener, more connected, more social Europe that is closer to its citizens.

A key aim of the funds will be leaving no one behind thanks to the financial means available for providing access to quality health, educational and cultural services, for integrating migrants and for tackling social exclusion.

Against this background, we welcome the different mentions to Roma, marginalised communities and disadvantaged groups that appear in the final compromise text. It is particularly relevant the Specific Objective (iii)promoting the socioeconomic inclusion of marginalised communities, low income households and disadvantaged groups including people with special needs, through integrated actions including housing and social services’ under Policy Objective 4 ‘a more social and inclusive Europe implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights’.

It is also worth mentioning the mentions in a number of recitals and notably in recital 21, which explicitly refers to Roma, which means a straightforward acknowledgement of the need for these funds to specifically address Roma population and reinforce the efforts to tackle the unequal situation that Roma face across the EU. It calls to ‘promote the socioeconomic inclusion of marginalised communities, with particular attention paid to the National Roma Integration Strategies (…)’  and states that ‘taking into account challenges facing marginalised Roma communities in terms of access to basic services, the ERDF and the Cohesion Fund should contribute to improving their living conditions and development prospects’. Recitals also refer to the promotion of social inclusion and the fight against poverty, particularly among marginalised communities, and to the support for investments in infrastructure, including housing for marginalised communities and disadvantaged groups, and in relation to access to services with a particular focus on disadvantaged, marginalised and segregated communities.

Finally, the indicators related to Specific Objective (iii) concern the population covered by projects in the framework of the objective as well as the capacity of new or modernised social housing, another key element for Roma inclusion.

Unfortunately, an agreement was not finally reached on the inclusion of the additional explicit references to Roma proposed during the negotiation phase (in particular, in the Specific Objective (iii) and in the indicator framework for monitoring progress) (see news item). However, the compromise text agreed is certainly a step forward compared to the 2014-2020 ERDF Regulation. We trust it will contribute to use the potential of these funds to promote equality, social inclusion and non-discrimination of disadvantaged groups and notably of the Roma population.

The text also calls for coordination, complementarity and coherence between different funding instruments and stresses that the implementation of the funds should ensure coordination and complementarity with the European Social Fund+ (ESF+), the Just Transition Fund, the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

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