Discrimination, harassment and hate crime
The data indicate that the most heinous forms of anti- Gypsyism, hate-motivated crime and harassment, continue to hamper Roma inclusion. The results of the EU-MIDIS II survey, conducted in 2016, are worrying. They show that, despite several years of inclusion efforts, on average, one out of three Roma surveyed had experienced some form of harassment – either offensive or threatening comments in person, threats of violence in person, offensive gestures or inappropriate staring, offensive or threatening e-mails or text messages, or offensive comments about them online. More worryingly, four per cent experienced physical violence motivated by anti-Gypsyism – and, of those, only one in three reported this to any organisation, including the police. This shows that insufficient attention has been paid to manifestations of anti-Gypsyism in the form of hate crime against Roma. Unsurprisingly, this diminishes Roma people’s trust in their public institutions, in particular law enforcement and justice, seriously undermining social inclusion efforts.
The existing evidence of wide-spread discrimination against Roma suggests that the Racial Equality Directive (2000/43/EU) is not effective – at least with respect to that particular group. Critical assessment by both the EU and the Member States is needed of why this is the case and what measures are required to remedy the existing situation.
EU Member States and the EU should invest in monitoring and understanding anti-Gypsyism. Questions that would yield robust data for estimating the severity of anti-Gypsyism – as well as hostility towards other groups in vulnerable situations – should be asked regularly in the standard EU surveys (e.g. Eurobarometer). In-depth research applying comparable methodologies across countries should be encouraged to understand the complex drivers of anti-Gypsyism to inform policies to effectively address it.
EU Member States should develop concrete measures to tackle hate crime and hate speech motivated by anti-Gypsyism. Such measures should ensure that Roma, like everyone else, are aware of and can benefit from the protection of the law against hate crime and hate speech. They should also ensure that law enforcement applies effective hate crime recording practices based on the principles endorsed by the EU High Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance. National Roma integration strategies should include an explicit component on measures to tackle hate crime and harassment caused by anti-Gypsyism. This could include specific actions that law enforcement in cooperation with equality bodies could take to foster an environment where Roma, like everyone else, feel confident about reporting incidents of hate crime and discriminatory treatment, including discriminatory ethnic profiling, in the knowledge that their complaints will be taken seriously and followed up by the competent authorities.
EU Member States should complement law enforcement with deliberate efforts to dismantle the social construct of the “Gypsy” and the association of Roma with marginalisation. Tens of thousands of Roma are qualified professionals, but they remain invisible because of the “Gypsy” stigma. Making the general population aware of their stories will boost the effectiveness of awareness-raising campaigns and will additionally motivate young Roma to embark on professional development paths.
The data collected by FRA show that, while in some Member States Roma children’s participation in education improved over time, the gap in educational attainment between Roma and non-Roma children remains high, especially beyond compulsory education. Encouragingly, between 2011 and 2016, participation in early childhood education increased in six out of the nine countries surveyed – but still lags behind the general population average. Improvements in participation in compulsory education were also encouraging, although it remains below the general population average in most countries. Also, between 2011 and 2016, the number of Roma pupils who left education at the level of secondary school on average decreased – from 87 % in 2011 to 68 % in 2016. In terms of experiences of direct discrimination, the overall share of Roma who felt discriminated against when in contact with schools has not changed since 2011 – totalling 14 % in 2016. Meanwhile, the proportion of Roma early school leavers compared to early school leavers in the general population across all countries surveyed remains unacceptably high. In respect to school segregation, the share of Roma attending classes where “all classmates are Roma” on average increased from 10 % in 2011 to 15 % in 2016 underlining the need for more decisive action in this area. Achieving this would also contribute to fulfilling Sustainable Development Goal No. 4: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
EU Member States should prioritise measures to combat anti-Gypsyism in education by eliminating any form of school or class segregation of Roma in line with the 2013 Council Recommendation. To achieve this, the educational authorities should implement a wide range of measures actively involving local stakeholders, particularly Roma parents and children, as well as community organisations. Awareness-raising actions on anti- Gypsyism should particularly target parents, teachers and children from non-Roma backgrounds.
EU Member States should ensure that Roma children receive high-quality teaching. Schools with large shares of Roma students should not be substandard educational facilities. Member States should provide the resources necessary for their refurbishment and supply them with modern equipment, particularly in terms of information technology. They should also ensure teacher training to improve the quality of education provided to all children through, for example, project- and problem-based learning, onthe- job experience, community service learning, as well as by providing life-long learning opportunities. This can make these schools more attractive to non-Roma parents and reduce the phenomenon of ‘white flight’.
EU Member States should consider taking measures explicitly targeting Roma students at every educational stage. Particular attention should be given to early childhood education and care, given its critical role in avoiding disadvantages at the early stages and fostering positive learning habits and social skills.
EU Member States should adopt concrete measures to tackle early school leaving by Roma students – such as those proposed in the European Toolkit for Schools. In particular, they should accommodate Roma students’ diversity and set challenging expectations based on the principle that quality education should fit the learner rather than requiring them to fit into an existing system.
EU Member States should address the poverty and severe-housing-deprivation-related difficulties many Roma children face at school. They should do so through measures that compensate, at least partially, for the legacy of historical deprivation that Roma children experience even today. Such measures could include individualised social and learning support at school and at home to offset the multiple disadvantages affecting Roma children and to boost their opportunities for an equal start; as well as providing educational scholarships through grant schemes explicitly targeting Roma students, or other forms of targeted support.
EU Member States should integrate modules on Roma history and culture in teaching programmes in mainstream secondary education. This would not just boost Roma children and youngsters’ selfesteem but would also be key to tackling anti- Gypsyism and the subconscious societal consensus to exclude Roma.
EU Member States’ educational authorities should monitor the enrolment, attendance and educational outcomes of Roma students at all educational levels. This would help determine the extent to which education systems currently meet their needs. They should also, as recommended by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, set clear equity goals for their education systems and use relevant indicators to monitor achievement of these goals.
Poverty is both an outcome and a driver of exclusion in education, employment, health and housing. A key target of the EU 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth is to lift 20 million people out of risk of poverty; addressing poverty among Roma would be an important contribution to meeting this target. The data analysed in this report show that the EU Member States are still far from coming even close to that target with respect to their Roma citizens. With few exceptions, poverty rates among Roma have not declined between 2011 and 2016. An overwhelming proportion of Roma – on average, 80 % in the nine Member States surveyed in 2016 – still live at risk of poverty. Moreover, an average of 27 % of Roma live in households where at least one person had to go to bed hungry at least once in the previous month; in some Member States, this proportion is even higher.
This calls for poverty reduction policies that blend diverse approaches to fulfilling the rights and principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights – for example, the right to adequate minimum income benefits ensuring a life in dignity at all stages of life; effective access to enabling goods and services for everyone lacking sufficient resources; the right of all children to protection from poverty; and the right of children from disadvantaged backgrounds to specific measures to enhance equal opportunities. Such policies would directly contribute to EU Member States’ commitment to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, namely Goal No. 1: “End poverty in all its forms everywhere”.
EU Member States should embark on comprehensive and effective poverty-reduction policies blending social protection and active labour market policies. To that end, they should use the full potential of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), as well as the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), to assist Roma who live in conditions of severe material and/or housing deprivation.
EU Member States should ensure that social protection systems are effective in reaching all those in need of support, including Roma. To that end, EU Member States should strengthen poverty reduction efforts through social investment measures, such as those recommended by the 2013 Council Recommendation. Such measures could be specific for Roma or mainstreamed targeting Roma explicitly, but not exclusively, in accordance with the 3rd Common Basic Principle on Roma inclusion. The procedures for claiming social benefits and other entitlements linked to these rights should be simple, and relevant information should be easily accessible for Roma people.
EU Member States should prevent phenomena of in-work poverty, as suggested also in Commission Recommendation 2008/867/EC54 of 3 October 2008. In-work poverty is particularly damaging for Roma since it contributes to their marginalisation, reinforces the vicious circle of exclusion, and further fuels anti- Gypsyism. On-the-job training and work placements boosting skills and qualifications may break this circle, making quality jobs with adequate remuneration, safe working conditions and career prospects available also for Roma. In designing such measures, Member States should take into account the June 2016 Council Conclusions on Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion: an Integrated Approach. They stress that preventing and fighting in-work poverty requires acknowledging the multidimensional nature of poverty and its impacts on employment, health and long-term care, reconciliation of work and family life, education and housing, as well as the different risks of poverty for women and men throughout the life cycle, from early childhood to old age.
Eurostat should monitor systematically the outcomes of poverty alleviation measures and structural reforms on vulnerable populations, such as Roma. The results should be reported in the context of the European Semester to avoid fiscal measures that could have a negative impact on poverty levels of the most vulnerable, which affects Roma disproportionally. EU Member States should reflect the “no one should be left behind” principle in their SDG monitoring and reporting mechanisms. This entails, apart from the national aggregates, monitoring relevant goals and targets also for specific groups facing particular risks of discrimination and marginalisation, such as Roma, but also people with disabilities, children, or older people. Monitoring progress on group-specific targets should be matched by monitoring policies and measures that ensure genuine progress towards these targets.
Overall employment rates for Roma remain low compared to the general population. The data show no change in the proportion of Roma who indicated that their main activity was ‘paid work’ between 2011 and 2016 – with an important gender gap. In the five years between the two surveys, EU Member States implemented a range of initiatives to increase Roma employment, mostly addressing the employability of Roma – but there is little evidence of measures to tackle anti-Gypsyism in the labour market. The proportion of young Roma aged 16 to 24 years, particularly women, who are not in employment, education or training (NEET rate) remains high – in stark contrast to the corresponding rates for the majority population. This could partly be attributed to the impact of anti-Gypsyism, as well as other factors related to persisting social exclusion, such as poor functional literacy, inadequate qualifications, or poor social skills, as well as traditional gender roles still common in Roma communities. The rates of experiences with discrimination due to being Roma when looking for work and while at work remain, on average, very high. Many Roma across the EU engage in entrepreneurial activities, but the employment potential of this entrepreneurial activity is not utilised in full.
EU Member States should strengthen measures to improve the access of Roma to the labour market – for example, measures supporting first work experience or providing on-the-job training using the full potential of the European Social Fund (ESF). Member States should consider how measures in the context of the Microfinance and Social Entrepreneurship axis of the Employment and Social Innovation programme (EaSI) could target Roma explicitly to improve their access to microfinancing for setting up business or micro-enterprises. In addition, Member States should consider measures facilitating access of Roma job seekers to public sector employment to improve diversity and inclusion in public sector workplaces.
EU Member States should ensure that young Roma benefit from measures implementing Council Recommendation of 22 April 2013 on a Youth Guarantee, which calls on Member States to ensure that all young people under 25 receive an offer of good quality employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship. To achieve this in respect to Roma youth, Member States should reach out systematically to young Roma to ensure that they register with employment services to benefit from the support measures available to all young people.
EU Member States should reach out to Roma communities to ensure that Roma are informed about measures under Council Recommendation of February 2016 on the integration of long-term unemployed into the labour market, which include in-depth individual assessments and guidance covering their employability prospects, barriers to employment and previous job-search efforts. Such individual assessment processes would also improve the sensitivity of public employment services to direct or indirect forms of ethnic discrimination. Furthermore, Member States could consider collecting statistical data disaggregated by ethnic background when monitoring the implementation of this Council Recommendation in the framework of the European Semester.
The proportion of Roma assessing their health as “very good” or “good” increased significantly between 2011 and 2016 in most EU Member States surveyed, and is on average similar to the general population. However, self-reported health insurance coverage on average did not change significantly over the same period, totalling 74 % in 2016. There are important country differences in self-reported medical insurance coverage. In its paper on the European Semester and Roma health issued in November 2016, the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) notes that, in respect to health, European Semester Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) in the social realm lack clear targets; remain largely non-binding; and, for three of the countries studied (Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia), were not particularly effective. The paper cites FRA data, arguing that Roma face disproportionate barriers to accessing health services. These barriers are exacerbated by a lack of insurance or personal identification documents but also due to distance or discriminatory attitudes. Addressing these challenges would contribute to fulfilling Sustainable Development Goal No. 3: “To ensure healthy lives and to promote well-being for all at all ages”.
EU Member States should develop measures, in line with the European Pillar of Social Rights, to improve access to good quality and affordable preventive and curative healthcare for Roma, in particular women, children, older people and persons with disabilities. Key in that regard is improving access to health services – both physical access and removing the intangible barriers among which prejudice plays an important role.
EU Member States where Roma are not fully covered or are not aware that they are covered by free medical insurance should take specific measures to ensure that Roma, like everyone else, enjoy the right to access quality medical care when needed. Such measures should take into account that a disproportionate number of Roma are not employed or not regularly employed in the formal labour market.
EU Member States should ensure preventive health measures for all Roma – in particular women, children, older people and those with disabilities – providing systematic medical check-ups free of charge, as well as pre- and post-natal care, family planning and immunisation, especially to those Roma who live in severely deprived housing conditions with limited access to clean potable water and sanitation. To improve access to health services and raise healthcare professionals’ awareness of their duty to non-discrimination, Member States should consider using community health workers where appropriate, in particular for facilitating the engagement of Roma at different levels in health services, boosting prevention and healthy lifestyle habits.
The data show that housing conditions for Roma did not change significantly between 2011 and 2016. For many, the right to social and housing assistance to ensure a decent existence for all who lack sufficient resources – guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights – remains unfulfilled. This means space limitations in their homes; no regular access to sanitation (potable water, toilets, showers, bathrooms inside the dwelling); and no electricity supply. The results show that some progress achieved was not uniform across all countries, with deterioration in some. A high share of Roma still have no regular access to basic sanitation or live in overcrowded conditions, hampering progress in other areas, such as education, health or employment. Moreover, the share of Roma experiencing discrimination in housing increased in a number of countries. With respect to the space available to each person in a dwelling, the results show a large, persisting difference from the general population average. A third of the Roma surveyed continue to live in housing that has no tap water inside the house; 38 % do not have a toilet, shower or bathroom inside their home – in stark contrast to the general population average recorded by Eurostat. There is no change in perceived discrimination when looking for housing between 2011 and 2016, though there are important differences between Member States.
Improving the housing situation of Roma would contribute to fulfilling Sustainable Development Goal No. 11: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. To that end EU Member, States should make full use of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). They should take stock of the European Economic and Social Committee’s opinion on the advantages of Community-led Local Development (CLLD) approach when developing housing measures in the context of integrated local and rural development, fostering the involvement of all residents, including Roma.
EU Member States should develop measures to improve the housing conditions of Roma, namely by eliminating any spatial segregation and promoting desegregation and non-discriminatory access to social housing, as well as ensuring access to public utilities and infrastructure. Member States should provide everyone in need with access to social housing or housing assistance of good quality.
EU Member States should target Roma explicitly with measures to improve or develop their social housing stock. They should match investment in the improvement of housing stock, improvements in local infrastructure and job creation at local level, engaging Roma in the implementation of Roma-targeted housing projects.
EU Member States should respect, as required by the European Pillar of Social Rights, the right of persons in vulnerable situations, such as many Roma, to appropriate assistance and protection against forced eviction. The latter should be an instrument of last resort and applied strictly in line with international standards, especially regarding the rights of the child.