Despite efforts at the national, European and international level to improve the social and economic integration of Roma in the European Union, many still face deep poverty, profound social exclusion, and discrimination, which often means limited access to quality education, jobs and services, low income levels, sub-standard housing conditions, poor health and lower life expectancy. These problems also present often insurmountable barriers to exercising their fundamental rights.
Data collected systematically over the past years by FRA and international organisations show that the situation of the Roma has changed little in recent years. In the wake of the recent global economic crisis, there is particular concern that the situation may deteriorate further, unless urgent and targeted action is taken.
In April 2011, the European Commission, determined to achieve a tangible change in Roma people’s lives over the coming years, published an EU Framework for national Roma integration strategies up to 2020, which set goals at the EU level that require Member States to improve the integration of Roma in four areas:
The Framework called on Member States to submit national Roma integration strategies by the end of 2011, specifying how they will contribute to achieving the overall EU level integration goals, including setting national targets and allowing sufficient funding to deliver them.
On 23 May 2012 the European Commission, having received and assessed national strategies, issued its Communication on National Roma Integration Strategies: a first step in the implementation of the EU Framework. This called on Member States to do more to implement national strategies aimed at improving the economic and social integration of Roma. At the same time, the Commission repeated its request to FRA to continue collecting data across the EU and work closely with Member States to develop effective national monitoring systems.
In response to these developments, FRA developed a multi-annual Roma Programme reaching from 2012 to 2020, to allow the agency to make regular reports on progress made and provide evidence based advice to the EU institutions and Member States based on data systematically collected across the EU. The programme comprises three elements, which are described below.
Collecting data and mapping data sources
- Collecting and analysing primary statistical data through surveys. In 2011, FRA, in close cooperation with the European Commission, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank conducted a survey of Roma and non-Roma populations living in close proximity to one another. The study collected data on their socio-economic condition, experiences of discrimination and rights awareness. Further rounds of the survey will be carried out in the future.
- Collecting secondary data and mapping official data sources. Existing data and information are important, as they allow us to contextualise survey findings and provide a more nuanced analysis of the situation. The Agency, through its network of national focal points FRANET, receives and analyses existing official and non-official data and information collected through academic research or by civil society organisations. FRA’s research revealed that there are different forms of data collected at various administrative levels, which can be useful in assessing the progress and outcome of Roma integration efforts. The Agency will now map such data sources more systematically, as part of its cooperation with the European Commission and Member States to improve the monitoring of Roma integration efforts.
Collecting data through local engagement
Collecting and analysing primary qualitative data through participatory action research. Starting in 2013, FRA will carry out research at the local level to better understand the factors that influence the current socio-economic situation and life experiences of Roma people, as well as their attitudes, perceptions, values and views. The research will also supply valuable information on how local projects and action plans can best be implemented. The work will entail participatory action research, which means researchers will work in local communities, engaging directly with Roma and non-Roma, and local authorities.
Working with Member States
Assisting Member States to measure progress of Roma integration. From 2012 to 2020, FRA is working closely with the Commission and Member States to develop monitoring methods that can provide a comparative analysis of the situation of Roma across Europe. It is also cooperating with other key actors to assist Member States in developing data collection methodologies, indicators and benchmarks that can enable them to effectively monitor the outcome of policy measures, providing a comparative analysis of the situation of Roma across Europe.