The European Commission vowed yesterday, 7 October, to do more for the Roma community by adopting a new 10-year plan that includesa proposal for a Council Recommendation to support Roma society in the European Union.
Commissioner Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, spoke bluntly, saying that not enough had been done in the last ten years to support the Roma population in the EU. “This is inexcusable. Many continue to face discrimination and racism. We cannot accept it. Today we are re-launching our efforts to correct this situation, with clear targets and a renewed commitment to achieve real change over the next decade.”
According to the EU executive’s plan, special efforts are to be made to ensure equality, inclusion, participation, education, employment, health, and housing. For each area, the EC has put forward new targets and recommendations for EU countries on how to achieve them. These will strengthen capacity to monitor progress while ensuring that the EU makes better progress in providing the vital support that many Roma living in the EU still need today.
Ensuring that at least 95% of Roma have access to tap water is one of the minimum targets proposed by the Commission as well as reducing the gap in housing deprivation by at least one third, and cutting the employment gap and the gender employment gap by at least half.
According to a report from the Slovak Academy of Science, Roma communities in segregated settlements or on the outskirts of towns lack access to clean drinking water. They are also victims of environmental discrimination and often forced to live next to toxic landfills and flood-prone neighbourhoods. Another report from the Open Society Foundation assessed that “EU funds have been spent on Roma inclusion without clear targets, indicators and clear monitoring.”
Overall, the Roma population and Roma civil society organisations have not been involved in the design and implementation of EU funds and related projects.
In order to transform the Commission’s recommendations into concrete and tangible solutions, it is crucial that member states adopt the right policies. The Commission advised EU countries to develop support systems for Roma victims of discrimination, to develop awareness-raising campaigns in schools, support financial literacy, promote employment of Roma in public institutions, and improve access to quality medical check-ups, screening, and family planning for Roma women.
The Commission urged EU countries to submit national strategies by September 2021 and to report on implementation every two years. Along with this, the EU executive will monitor progress towards the 2030 targets, drawing on input from surveys carried out by the European Fundamental Rights Agency and input from civil society.