Ahead of International Roma Day on 8 April, Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Vĕra Jourová, Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, and Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Olivér Várhelyi issued the following statement:
“On occasion of the International Roma Day, we celebrate, together with our largest European ethnic minority, their unique contribution to European diversity and heritage. We also mark the 50th anniversary of the First World Romani Congress.
Yet, many Roma still face prejudice, discrimination, antigypsyism and socioeconomic exclusion in their daily lives. In addition, the global pandemic has hit Roma communities hard. We must do everything possible to address not only the current crisis affecting them, but also to bring real change on the ground.
To that end, the European Commission adopted an ambitious EU Roma Strategic Framework – a new 10-year plan to achieve equality for Roma in the European Union, and beyond. The Framework includes comprehensive lists of measures to combat discrimination and antigypsyism, advance social inclusion, promote participation of Roma in society and ensure equal access to quality mainstream education, employment, health and housing throughout Europe.
Based on this Framework, the Recommendation for Roma equality, inclusion and participation was unanimously adopted by EU Member States. It sent a strong and clear signal that Member States are determined to address the multiple challenges Roma communities face across the EU. Beyond EU, the EU Roma Strategic Framework also plays a key role in the accession negotiations with the Western Balkans.
Member States’ commitment is vital to achieving solid results over the next ten years. Europe still has a long way to go to achieve real equality for Roma, respect for diversity and mutual understanding for historical experience. By working together we can make a difference and unlock the huge potential of Roma for the benefit of both Roma themselves and Europe as a whole.”
The Roma are Europe’s largest minority community with 10-12 million Roma living in the EU and in the enlargement region.
Although their situation has improved both in the EU and in the enlargement region – predominantly in the area of education – Europe still has a long way to go to achieve real equality for Roma. Marginalisation persists, and many Roma continue to face a combination of disproportionate discrimination, antigypsyism and socioeconomic exclusion in their daily lives.
The new EU Roma Strategic Framework is a direct contribution to the implementation of the EU Action Plan against racism 2020-2025, and part of President von der Leyen‘s commitment to a Union of Equality. Roma equality has also been discussed at the first European Anti-Racism Summit.
The new EU Roma Strategic Framework for equality, inclusion and participation builds upon the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020. As part of the Strategic Framework the Commission proposed a Council Recommendation, to support Roma in the EU. Both initiatives include comprehensive lists of measures to combat discrimination and antigypsyism, advance social inclusion, promote participation of Roma in society and active citizenship, and ensure effective equal access to quality mainstream education, employment, health and housing throughout Europe. The Council Recommendation was adopted by all Member States on 12 March.
The Strategic Framework ties in with the work of the Commission in other areas, the Victims’ Rights Strategy, the Gender Equality Strategy, the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, the EU Gender Action Plan in External relations and in the implementation of the 2019 EU guidelines on non-discrimination in external action. It also ties in with mainstreaming EU funds for Roma equality, inclusion and participation in the context of the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework (MFF) through structural funds and the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument – Global Europe (NDICI), as well as the Economic and Investment Plan for Western Balkans.
Many of the policy areas linked to improving Roma equality, inclusion and participation are primarily national responsibilities. However, the EU has an important role in providing policy guidance, coordinating actions by Member States, monitoring implementation and progress, providing support via EU funds, and promoting the exchange of good practices. The EU also plays an equally important role in promoting Roma equality, inclusion and participation in the framework of EU enlargement negotiations.
The Romani Congress was launched in 1971 setting the foundation for a process of collective affirmation of the Roma community under common ethnic identity markers and aspirations, such as history, culture, language, endorsement of 8 April as the international Roma Day, and the Roma flag, for the Roma population.