Economic and social integration of Roma

The Roma Task Force to the Commission, in charge of the evaluation of Member States’ use of EU funding with regard to the social and economic integration of Roma, published on December 21st, its initial findings. Thus, it is clear from this report that the potential offered by European funds to strengthen the integration of Roma is not sufficiently exploited by the Member States and that the Task Force needs to continue its efforts to identify concrete ways to improve the funds’ uses. In spring 2011, the Commission will present the results that will be incorporated in a Community framework for national strategies for Roma integration in the Member States. According to a study published on December 21st by the Commission, the best ways to improve the situation of Roma in Europe would consist of developing integrated policies and projects involving multiple causes of social exclusion. This study analyzed national measures for Roma integration in 18 EU Member States.

First findings of the Roma Task Force

The Roma Task Force was established following a proposal by Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner; László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion; and Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs (IP/10/1097). The Task Force sent questionnaires to the 27 Member States regarding their use of EU funds to address the Roma situation.

The preliminary findings indicate that Member States do not yet properly use EU money for the purpose of an effective social and economic integration of Roma. Weaknesses exist in the development of appropriate strategies and specific measures to address problems faced by Roma. Implementation at national level is problematic because of a lack of know-how and administrative capacity to absorb EU funds. The report also identifies problems in providing national co-financing as well as a lack of involvement by civil society and Roma communities themselves.

The management of the bulk of EU funding that may benefit Roma integration is shared with Member States, notably through the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and to a lesser extent the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). In May 2010, the EU allowed the use of European regional funding to improve housing for marginalised communities in rural areas (IP/10/589). As is always the case with EU funds, it is up to Member States and managing authorities to come up with viable projects. It is not the European Commission’s role to propose projects (see also MEMO/10/383).

Next steps

The Commission’s Roma Task Force will now identify concrete ways to improve the effectiveness of EU funds in the Member States. These approaches will feed into an EU-level framework for national Roma inclusion strategies, which the Commission plans to adopt in spring 2011.

New Study on Member States’ Projects on Roma Inclusion

Today’s study – carried out on behalf of the Commission – finds that integrated policy approaches designed to tackle the multiple causes of social exclusion affecting Roma are the most successful. Strong political will is also required. Seven of the 18 countries studied have adopted integrated national strategies for Roma inclusion, although these are not always consistently implemented.

Success factors include:

* effective coordination of policies within national governments and between the national, regional and local levels – such as the national coordination mechanisms set up by Spain and the national Roma strategy in Hungary;

* sustainable programmes with reliable, multi-annual budgets to ensure continuity of results – such as the ACCEDER training programme that began as a temporary project but has since helped 25,000 people find work over a 9-year period in 48 locations across Spain;

* effective participation and consultation of Roma in inclusion efforts – Austria and Ireland have set up national advisory bodies to consult Roma and Traveller communities on government initiatives, while Romania’s Parliament includes a member to represent Roma communities and all Slovene municipalities with Roma populations include at least one Roma councillor;

* reliable data and evaluation of results – such as initiatives in Slovakia to survey the living conditions and health needs of Roma and Traveller communities.


The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and the Roma Education Fund (REF) prepared the comparative study, which looks at measures addressing the situation of Roma living in 18 EU Member States with sizeable Romani populations: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The study analyses successful activities that seek to improve the situation of Roma in non-discrimination and equality policies, education, employment and training, health care services, housing and gender equality.

A large proportion of the Roma community in the EU is disproportionately affected by unemployment, extreme poverty, poor housing, low health standards and difficult access to education. The EU – since 2007 – has confirmed that while the social and economic integration of disadvantaged Roma people is primarily a responsibility for each country, there is also a role for the EU. A series of Council conclusions have endorsed the Commission’s assessment (in Communications in 2008 and 2010, see IP/10/407 and MEMO/10/121) that more needs to be done to apply the EU framework of legislative, financial and policy coordination tools to the promote Roma inclusion.

Today’s Roma Task Force findings on the use of EU funds and the comparative study on national Roma Inclusion Measures will be used by the Commission in its further work with Member States on the successful integration of the 10-12 million Roma living in the EU.

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