London, 23 December 2013
On 9 December 2013, the Council of the European Union unanimously adopted the “Council recommendation on effective Roma integration measures in the Member States”. This is an important development in Europe, where the Roma continue to face widespread prejudice, discrimination and social exclusion. The Recommendation signifies a necessary and welcome commitment from the EU to taking action to tackle the inequality and discrimination faced by the Roma in Europe and, in particular, to addressing their socio-economic exclusion.
The Recommendation is targeted at guiding member states in “enhancing the effectiveness of their measures to achieve Roma integration and strengthen the implementation of their national Roma integration strategies”. Equality and non-discrimination are at the heart of the Recommendation, which not only requires states to take effective measures to ensure the equal treatment of Roma (Recommendation 1.1) but also sets out the need for horizontal policy measures relating to anti-discrimination and poverty reduction (Recommendations 2.1 to 2.7). Of particular note, the Recommendation:
- Places a strong emphasis on desegregation in both education (Recommendation 1.3) and housing (Recommendation 1.6). Importantly, the Recommendation contains specific guidance on the inclusion of policies related to early childhood (Recommendations 1.3 and 2.6).
- Stresses the need for action and engagement not only at a national level but also, crucially, at a local level on all key issues covered (see in particular Recommendations 3.1-3.3).
- Sets out detailed guidance in relation to the resources that should be allocated to ensuring Roma inclusion. “Adequate funding” should be allocated to measures for the integration of the Roma (Recommendation 1.9). Further, member states should allocate 20% of their European Structural Funds resources to “the promotion of social inclusion and combating poverty and discrimination, including, inter alia, the socio-economic integration of marginalised communities such as Roma” (Recommendation 1.10).
The Equal Rights Trust welcomes the adoption of the Recommendation. As the Recommendation itself acknowledges, many Roma “still face deep poverty, social exclusion, discrimination and barriers to exercising their fundamental rights” and this Recommendation provides clear and sensible guidance as to the steps member states are expected to take to ensure the socio-economic equality of Roma on their territory.
Dimitrina Petrova, ERT Executive Director, said:
“Although it is not legally binding on individual EU member states, this Recommendation may be expected to play a positive role in domestic policies. The Recommendation is evidence of the heightened state of alert among the European political elites, who now see more clearly the catastrophic knock-off effects of the continued exclusion of the Roma from European societies. This Recommendation, together with the ex-ante conditionality regarding the implementation of national Roma integration strategies for accessing the EU Structural Funds, has a chance to bring some tangible improvements in the lives of Roma people. The next step is to put in place a decent monitoring mechanism ensuring that success in implementation is defined and measured by Roma themselves.”
To read the EU Council Recommendation click here