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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.
Start of activity: 2010
In 2011, FRA carried out a survey of Roma in 11 Member States in response to the need to collect comparable data on the socio-economic situation of Roma in the EU. The same information was collected on non-Roma living in areas close by to allow for meaningful comparison.
The EU and international organisations have identified a paucity of data in regard to the socio-economic situation of Roma. FRA research has also shown that Roma are particularly vulnerable to discrimination and human rights violations in the EU. Of all the groups surveyed by FRA in its European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS), the Roma emerged as the group most likely to face intolerance and social exclusion.
The Roma Pilot Survey, conducted in close collaboration with a parallel survey by the UNDP and the World Bank and funded by the European Commission, produced important data that serve as a baseline for targets to be set by the EU’s framework for Roma integration strategies. This survey and subsequent follow-up work is one of the basic pillars of FRA’s multi-annual Roma Programme.
The survey applied a similar methodological approach as EU-MIDIS: individuals who identified themselves as Roma were randomly selected and interviewed on the composition of their households, the basic characteristics of household members and their own experiences in key areas related to fundamental rights, for example with respect to social inclusion and integration. Simultaneously, non-Roma living close by were asked the same questions.
Contact: Sabine Springer, Activity manager firstname.lastname@example.org
Activity status: Ongoing
Start of activity: 2012
Existing official and non-official data complement and contextualise the statistical results of surveys. In 2012, the Agency asked its FRANET network of national focal points to collect all existing data throughout the Member States related to the socio-economic and human rights situation of Roma.
Data availability and up-to-date information on the current situation of the Roma is a key starting point for identifying goals and targets with which progress can be measured in the future.
In 2013, FRA will map existing data sources at national, regional and selected local levels.
The pilot survey covered only those Member States where Roma live in sufficient numbers and density to allow random sampling. However, FRA needs to analyse the situation of Roma in the remaining 16 Member States and Croatia as well, and will use the existing official and non-official data collected through this process.
In addition, FRA will map existing official and unofficial data sources, including those that may currently be unused or underutilised, in order to support Member States in their efforts to monitor progress made on Roma integration.
FRA collected and analysed the available and relevant data in 2012 [LINK UPCOMING] at national level through FRANET, and is using them in its comparative analyses.
In 2013, FRA will map existing data sources using FRANET and by cooperating with other EU agencies. In addition, FRA will investigate any data produced by research funded by the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities Programme of the 6th and the 7th Framework Programmes (DG Research).
Contact: Michail Beis, Activity manager email@example.com
Activity status: Ongoing
Start of activity: 2013
The project involves the collection of qualitative data and information through the active involvement of members of local communities – Roma and non-Roma – and local authorities.
This project enables local communities to collect data and shape programmes designed to improve their socio-economic situation and living conditions. It increases our understanding of the situation Roma communities find themselves in and makes it possible to examine and develop ways of improving the design, implementation and monitoring of Roma integration policies and activities at the local level. Statistical data provide essential information, but qualitative in-depth fieldwork research is necessary to better understand the complex interaction of different factors that affect social exclusion processes. The European Commission’s Roma Task Force has identified specific weaknesses in the implementation of Roma integration policies and action plans and the use of EU funds, particularly at the local level. The shortcomings included a lack of know-how and administrative capacity at the local level; a lack of reliable data and effective monitoring tools to measure progress; and the lack of meaningful involvement by Roma themselves. The project investigates these deficiencies and the best way of supporting efforts to overcome them.
The research makes use of participatory action research methods. This allows participants to engage directly in the collection and interpretation of data. It also enables those taking part to participate in shaping and monitoring local Roma integration policies and activities. The knowledge and experience gained helps contribute to the capacity of decision makers – particularly at the local level, but also at the national and European levels – to plan and carry out effective and targeted policies that will lead to measurable improvements for Roma.
Contact: Sheena Keller, Activity manager firstname.lastname@example.org
Activity status: Ongoing
Start of activity: 2012
FRA has set up and facilitates an ad hoc working party to pool knowledge and expertise on indicator development, data collection, monitoring, and statistical analysis of Roma integration. The working party feeds its results to the European Commission’s network of National Roma Contact Points. It is composed of policy and statistical experts from national authorities, the European Commission, EU agencies such as Eurofound, and relevant international bodies such as the UN Development Programme.
Robust monitoring is a key requirement for ensuring a successful implementation of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration. In its Communication of April 2011, the European Commission therefore asked the FRA to work with Member States on developing monitoring methods that can provide a comparative analysis of the situation of Roma throughout the EU.
FRA invited interested EU Member States to participate in a working party that will meet regularly to exchange experience and practices to develop ways of measuring Roma integration so as to produce comparable results. The initial pilot group members are currently Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Spain, the UK and Croatia. This group will be extended over time and lessons learned are regularly provided to all Member States through the Commission's network of National Roma Contact Points.
Contact: Andrey Ivanov, Activity manager email@example.com