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Equality, inclusion and ­participation for Roma and Sinti

The EU’s first “Roma Strategy” was rolled out in 2012 but did not bring any major improvements for the communities concerned. In October 2020, responding to the extreme marginalisation and socioeconomic discrimination the groups still face, the European Commission adopted a new ten-year plan to support Roma in the EU (2020–2030).
Eviction of a Sinti community from an industrial site in Rome in 2019. Cecilia Fabiano/picture-alliance/ZUMAPRESS.com Eviction of a Sinti community from an industrial site in Rome in 2019.

It includes a list of  seven areas of special focus. They include: equality, inclusion, participation, education, employment, health and housing.  For each of them, the top EU body has spelled out new targets. It also made recommendations to help the EU member states to achieve them. The minimum targets for 2030 are:

  • cutting the proportion of Roma who experience discrimination by at least half,
  • doubling the proportion of Roma filing a report after experiencing discrimination,
  • reducing the poverty gap between Roma and the general population by at least half,
  • cutting the gap in participation in early childhood education by at least half,
  • cutting the proportion of Roma children attending segregated primary schools by at least half in member states with a significant Roma population,
  • cutting the employment gap and the gender employment gap by at least half;
  • cutting the gap in life expectancy by at least half,
  • reducing the gap in housing deprivation by at least one third and
  • increasing the proportion of Roma with access to tap water to at least 95 %.

These minimum targets are not binding, however, and responsibility for achieving them resides with the member states. They are obliged to submit national strategies by September 2021. Moreover, they will have to report on implementation progress to the European Commission every two years. There is no guarantee things will go smoothly. 

Herbert Heuss of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma doubts that will happen. His assessment is: “Roma are not a European minority, they are first and foremost members of a national minority in their respective home country”.
The implication is that equality and participation indeed have to start at nation-state level.

EU Roma strategic framework for equality, inclusion and participation for 2020–2030: