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FRA Opinions EU-MIDIS II Roma

The following FRA Opinions, which build on the key findings of EU-MIDIS II on Roma, should be read against the targets set out in the EU’s growth strategy ‘Europe 2020’ and, in particular, against the 2013 Council Recommendation on effective Roma integration measures in the Member States.

Poverty and social exclusion

EU-MIDIS II shows that 80 % of Roma continue to live below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold of their country; that every third Roma lives in housing without tap water; one in 10 in housing without electricity; and that every fourth Roma (27 %) and every third Roma child (30 %) live in a household that faced hunger at least once in the previous month.

This suggests that the 2013 Council Recommendation’s goal on effective Roma integration measures concerning poverty reduction through social investment is far from being reached. The same applies to the 2013 European Commission Recommendation ‘Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage’, which provides guidelines to Member States for organising and implementing policies to address child poverty and social exclusion.

Labour market participation

EU-MIDIS II finds that only one in four Roma aged 16 years or older reports ‘employed’ or ‘self-employed’ as their main activity at the time of the survey. Roma women report much lower employment rates than Roma men – 16 % compared with 34 %. Overall, the survey shows paid work rates for Roma aged 20-64 years to be 30 %, which is well below the EU average of 70 % in 2015. The situation of young people is substantially worse: on average, 63 % of Roma aged 16-24 were not employed, in education or training at the time of the survey, compared with the 12 % EU average on the NEET rate for the same age group. For this age group, the results also show a considerable gender gap, with 72 % of young Roma women not employed, in education or training, compared with 55 % of young Roma men.

This suggests that meeting the 2013 Council Recommendation’s goal of taking effective measures to ensure equal treatment of Roma in access to the labour market and to employment opportunities will be a considerable challenge.


The results of the first Roma survey in 2011 were worrying. They showed that only one out of two Roma children surveyed attended pre-school or kindergarten, and a very small proportion continued school after compulsory education. EU-MIDIS II results show that Roma children lag behind their non-Roma peers on all education indicators. Only about half (53 %) of Roma children between the age of four and the starting age of compulsory primary education participate in early childhood education. On average, 18 % of Roma between 6 and 24 years of age attend an educational level lower than that corresponding to their age. The proportion of Roma early school-leavers is disproportionately high compared with the general population. School segregation remains a problem in Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and Slovakia despite the legal prohibition of this practice and recent case law of the European Court of Human Rights.

This suggests that the 2013 Council Recommendation’s goal of taking effective measures to ensure equal treatment and full access to quality and mainstream education for Roma children and that all Roma pupils complete at least compulsory education has not been reached. The results suggest that public authorities have not implemented effective measures to ensure Roma children’s equal participation in pre-school or kindergarten, upper-secondary or tertiary education.

Awareness of rights and reporting of discrimination

In the 2011 Roma survey, about half of the respondents indicated that they felt discriminated against because of their ethnic origin. Only a minority were aware of laws forbidding discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin when applying for a job.

EU MIDIS II finds that Roma continue to face intolerable levels of discrimination in daily life – whether looking for work, at work, in education, healthcare, or when in contact with administrative bodies or entering a shop. Almost one in two Roma (41 %) felt discriminated against because of their ethnic origin at least once in one of these areas of daily life in the past five years. One in four Roma (26 %) indicates that the last incident of perceived discrimination happened in the 12 months preceding the survey. The highest prevalence of discrimination in the past 12 months is found when using public or private services (19 %) and when looking for work (16 %). However, on average, only 12 % of Roma report their experiences of discrimination to an authority. Moreover, almost a third (27 %) of the Roma surveyed do not know of any law prohibiting discrimination based on ethnic origin, and most Roma (82 %) do not know any organisations offering support to victims of discrimination.

Towards more effective monitoring and evaluation

One of the structural measures requested by the 2013 Council Recommendation concerns monitoring and evaluating policies. The European Commission and FRA have for several years promoted collecting data that can be disaggregated by ethnic origin and that is based on information about respondents’ self-identification, collected on a voluntary basis and in full respect of EU and national data protection regulations. In this context, FRA regularly conducts surveys on members of ethnic, religious and other minorities. Developing a common methodology, which provides relevant and comparable data on the Roma population across the Member States to monitor their social inclusion, can be best achieved at EU level in close cooperation with all Member States.

Against this background, the Court of Auditors – in Recommendation 8 of its 2016 special report on EU policy initiatives and financial support for Roma integration – calls on the European Commission to work with the Member States to develop a common methodology. The Commission is asked to “encourage Member States, in accordance with national legal frameworks and EU legislation, including existing possible derogations, to collect in a comprehensive manner statistical data on ethnicity within the next 2 years.”