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Equality for Roma in Europe: A Roadmap for Action

Efforts to date to ensure equality for Roma in Europe have failed to produce significant improvement. The challenges have been and remain enormous: deeply embedded institutional discrimination within government structures, widespread anti-Gypsyism, extraordinarily high levels of poverty and social exclusion, and segregated systems in housing, education, and social welfare.

The European Roma Information Office, European Roma Rights Center, Migration Policy Group, and the Open Society Institute have published a report that assesses implementation of EU equality and nondiscrimination commitments as they apply to ethnic minorities, in particular Roma. Based on research examining a significant body of literature on the current situation of Roma in Europe, the report maps out the cultural, policy, and legislative changes that need to be realized by governments and EU institutions.

The report, Equality for Roma in Europe: A Roadmap for Action, points to a number of factors that have limited progress to date, including the following:

  • lack of strategic focus of funded initiatives;
  • low levels of Roma participation in public life;
  • insufficiently robust legislative frameworks;
  • the need for an integrated approach;
  • high levels of anti-Gypsyism;
  • challenges to the preservation of Roma identity and culture;
  • lack of political will.

The report's recommendations to national governments include the following:

  • Devise national strategies for Roma, operationalized through an action plan.
  • Develop comprehensive legislative frameworks, with a view to (i) providing accessible and appropriate means off redress for individual Roma who suffer discrimination and (ii) proactively promoting equality so as to bring about the necessary institutional change.

Recommendations to EU institutions include:

  • Adopt a framework strategy for Roma integration, providing the necessary mechanisms for the coordination of all commission activities and which would facilitate the alignment of EU and national policies. The Decade of Roma Inclusion may be a good basis and framework.
  • Improve existing EU policy frameworks. The EU high-level group for the social and labor market integration of ethnic minorities should be given a strategic role in this area.
  • Enhance legislation compliance and monitoring, in particular the full transposition and effective implementation but also extension of the scope of the Race Equality Directive.
  • Complement the existing legal framework, taking into account the hurdles for the attainment of equality for Roma found within the existing legislative framework.

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