How to improve local Roma inclusion

General trends on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to boosting Roma inclusion was outlined during a stocktaking event on Roma integration efforts on 28 March in Brussels.

The trends were drawn from the Agency’s research in 21 localities across 11 EU Member States. The research involved engaging with Roma and local authorities to understand why many Roma inclusion efforts fail to produce tangible results. It also sought to identify successful practices for creating social inclusion at the local level.

Some of the key points that emerged include:

  • Building trust – after years of discrimination, poverty and social exclusion as well as the many failed inclusion efforts, managing expectations and building trust among the Roma is the key to successful integration. This involves keeping everyone informed and finding out what they most need.
  • Meaningful participation – participation can take many forms from simply being invited to meetings through to helping to implement actions. However, whatever shape it takes, Roma should be involved as equals, rather than as a token gesture. For this, it is important to agree on specific goals that will deliver concrete meaningful results. This helps ensure local participation of the Roma community and motivates them to remain engaged.
  • Empowering people – giving Roma the chance to engage in dialogue with local authorities empowers them to claim their rights. By listening to each other’s views, a shared understanding is created and expectations are better managed. In this way stereotypes can be broken and the Roma will feel respected and stand up for the rights.
  • Learning from the past – a deeper understanding of the reasons for successes and failures can help shape future efforts. By learning lessons, and being open about what went wrong and why, challenges can be overcome and future projects, policies and approaches adjusted. Ultimately this can improve the chances of success.

The research has captured a wealth of information about social inclusion and Roma integration measures on the ground. Already it reveals the importance of a more targeted case-by-case approach taking into account the needs of each community rather than using a blanket solution for everyone.

The Agency will publish the case studies and accompanying videos from the 21 localities on 26 April. They will reveal the different local contexts, including their particular needs and challenges, the efforts that have been made to promote inclusion, as well as the various successes.

Together they help to illustrate critical aspects that must be considered if money, resources and efforts are to be better used, and if policies are to be more effective in actually improving the lives of Roma across the EU.

The findings will help feed a wider analysis that will be published in 2018.

The stocktaking event sought to provide input to the EU’s mid-term assessment of its Framework for national Roma integration strategies. The discussion should help improve the remaining years of implementation until 2020 as well as help shape the EU’s Roma policies post-2020.

The discussion was part of a series of events for EU Roma week building up to International Roma Day on 8 April.