Monday, April 11, 2011


EU Shuts Roma Groups Out of Policy-Making Process

Leading groups say new EU Roma Framework is woefully inadequate

Budapest 7 April 2011 –

Leading Roma organizations lashed out at the European Commission for failing to include Roma voices and input in the development of its new “EU framework for national Roma integration strategies up to 2020.” The groups complain that new strategy for Roma integration, which was released this week by the executive arm of the European Union, misses an important opportunity to address the rising tide of anti-Gypsyism in Europe.

The group of 36 organizations from 16 countries met in Budapest as part of a conference organized by the Decade of Roma Inclusion, an initiative of governments and civil society aimed at improving the lives of Europe’s more than ten million Roma.

Among the main shortfalls of the Framework, the group highlighted:

• The target on education lacks ambition. Education is at the core of any effort to improve the livelihoods of the Roma yet the Framework falls woefully short.

• The Framework lacks a clear gender dimension, which experience has shown is crucial to achieve good results.

• The Framework does not explicitly address Roma youth.

• The Framework fails to mention the worrying rise of anti-Gypsyism, negative prejudices, and institutionalized discrimination.

“Expectations were high for this proposal but at the end of the day what we have is a watered-down Framework that offers little clarity for what member states need to do and the role for the European Commission in taking this framework forward,” said Valeriu Nicolae, executive director for the Bucharest-based Policy Center for Roma and Minorities.

The Roma group also underscored three key questions for the European Commission:

1. How does the Commission plan on ensure effective national policies involving all relevant stakeholders including civil society and regional and local authorities?

2. How will the Commission in working with the Fundamental Rights Agency and other agencies ensure there is full and effective monitoring?

3. In light of the new Framework how can the EU Roma Platform provide proper oversight and debate on national strategies involving a much wider part of Roma civil society?

“The Framework offers no guarantees to ensure national strategies will be developed in close consultation with Roma civil society. Civil society is ready to play an active role in the policy-making process; we only ask the European Commission to engage with us,” said Zeljko Jovanovic, Director of the Open Society Roma Initiatives.

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