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Today, a Roma Summit will be held to discuss the progress made on Roma inclusion in the EU over the last four years. The EU institutions and the Council of Europe have often repeated their determination to combat the exclusion of Roma in a variety of areas, from education through housing to employment. Progress in Roma integration is nonetheless slow and indeed in some places has reversed, with anti-gypsyism an increasing problem in a number of countries.
More active dialogue is also needed to ensure Roma voices are heard on all aspects of inclusion policy. This is why the motto of this year’s Roma Summit, "Going local on Roma inclusion", is so important.
“Roma integration can only work if efforts at the EU and national level are matched by activities that engage local Roma communities,” said FRA Director Morten Kjaerum. “We often call the Roma a ‘target group’, but this is a false concept: Roma need to be core to the process of inclusion and integration. That’s why they need to be given the tools and opportunities to determine their own future.”
Evidence from FRA and numerous other organisations has shown that engaging Roma communities directly in the design and implementation of integration programmes helps to create more sustainable projects. In addition, this approach does a great deal to break down stereotypes and improve communication between the Roma and local majority communities, which in turn leads to higher levels of social cohesion.
FRA is already supporting the effort to go local with its own Local Engagement Research for Roma Integration project. This aims to examine and develop ways of improving the design, implementation and monitoring of Roma integration policies at the local level. It will contribute to improving administrative capacity and make the monitoring tools for measuring progress more effective. Most importantly, it will equip Roma communities and local civil society bodies with the tools and self-confidence to become agents of their own destiny.
Findings from a survey of Roma in 11 EU Member States by FRA, the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank and the European Commission show that 46% of Roma were discriminated against in the year preceding the research because of their ethnicity. Almost 9 in 10 Roma were at risk of falling into poverty, compared with less than half of non-Roma living nearby. To see more figures from the survey, please visit FRA’s Roma data explorer.