MINELRES: What is the EU Platform for Roma Inclusion?

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sun Oct 4 11:20:43 2009

Original sender: Roma Virtual Network <romale@zahav.net.il>

What is the EU Platform for Roma Inclusion?
Source: European Commission 
Posted on: 28th September 2009
The Platform is an open and flexible mechanism of governance organised
by the Commission and the EU Presidency at the request of the Council in
which key actors – EU institutions, national governments, international
organisations, NGOs and experts – can interact with a view to exchange
experience and good practice. 

It aims at making the existing policy processes more coherent and
prepares the ground for synergies. The Platform is not a formal body,
but rather a process driven by participants. The EU Presidency
(currently Sweden) plays a particularly important role as the link to
national governments and to the Council of the EU.

Who is organising the launch of the EU platform and who will

The meeting is organised jointly by the Swedish Presidency of the EU
(under the lead of the Swedish Ministry of Integration and Gender
Equality) and the European Commission (under the lead of the
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities,
Vladimir Spidla, and the Commissioner for Education and Culture, Jan

All 27 EU Member States have been invited; invitations have also been
sent to the six candidate countries and potential candidate countries.
Civil society representatives include the Roma Education Fund, European
Roma Policy Coalition, the Open Society Institute, the European Roma and
Travellers Forum and the Network of European Foundations. International
organisations attending include the Organisation for Security and
Cooperation in Europe, the World Bank, the UN Development Programme, the
Council of Europe, as well as a representative from the Decade for Roma
Inclusion 2005-2015. Moreover, academic experts from universities,
research institutions and NGOs will participate along with experts from
the most relevant European Commission’s services.

What are the main issues on the agenda?

The agenda will focus on the question of how the quality of education
for Roma can be improved. The EU’s newly adopted strategic framework
“Education and Training 2020? plans, inter alia, cooperation of Member
States on the promotion of equity, social cohesion and active
citizenship. The debate will be opened by a presentation by Mihai Surdu
(Roma Education Fund) and will focus in the first part on key problems
of Roma in the education system. In the second part three model cases
will be presented which are of overall interest for all EU Member States
as well as candidate and potential candidate countries. The case studies
comprise the Swedish policy on mainstreaming education, the Hungarian
equal opportunities funding policy and a local project from Timisoara
(Romania) on Roma women against segregation.

How do the Common Basic Principles relate to education?

The Common Basic Principles presented at the first meeting of the
Platform in April 2009 and adopted as part of Council conclusions on 8
June 2009 include several references to the importance of education for
Roma inclusion. Although education is generally a responsibility for
national governments, the principles made clear it should be organised
in a way which is:

* pragmatic, constructive and non-discriminatory without being exclusive
(in line with Common Basic Principles 1 and 2),

* follows an intercultural approach aimed at integrating Roma into the
mainstream of society, and taking the gender dimension into account (in
line with Common Basic Principles 3, 4, and 5),

* based on evidence and making effective use of EU legal and financial
instruments (in line with Common Basic Principles 6 and 7),

* built on the ownership of regional and local stakeholders and the Roma
communities themselves (in line with Common Basic Principles 8, 9, and

The final goal must be the inclusion of Roma into mainstream education
and, thus, into mainstream society.

What are the main challenges for Roma in the EU?

The main message is clear: there is a need for policies which facilitate
access of Roma people to mainstream education, employment and housing.
By contrast, policies which tend to aggravate or continue social
exclusion and persistent segregation of the Roma should be scrupulously

The Commission’s July 2008 report described the situation of the Roma as
characterised by persistent discrimination – both at individual and
institutional level – and far-reaching social exclusion.

The problem is a complex one that requires a complex response. There is
no quick-fix solution and all aspects of the question need to be taken
into consideration.

Will the EU Platform work towards a new European Roma policy?

No, this is not about a one-size-fits-all European Roma policy. Many of
the key areas for Roma inclusion – education, employment, social
inclusion, health services or the infrastructure and urban planning –
are mainly or entirely national responsibilities. Therefore, the
Commission is committed to supporting Member States in implementing
policies to improve the situation of Roma. This coordination of national
policies supports benchmarking and mutual learning and considerable
resources in the framework of the EU Structural Funds can be mobilised
to implement these policies. Also, the European Commission is determined
to act where it has the competence, in particular by ensuring that the
legislation already in force (the Race Equality Directive) is properly

What has the EU done so far to improve the situation of Roma?

The EU has for some years taken action in four key areas: rights,
policies, financial support and awareness-raising. In particular,

* Roma are fully covered by EU legislation which prohibits
discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin in employment, social
protection and education as well as access to goods and services,
including housing.

* The EU’s Framework Decision on combating certain forms and expressions
of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law (Council documents
16771/07, 16771/07 COR 4, and 16351/1/08) prohibits the incitation of
violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of
such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or
national or ethnic origin. The Framework Decision is an important step
to protect Roma at the national level against hate speech or violent

* The coordination of Member States’ policies on education, employment
and social inclusion provides for a framework for mutual learning and
the identification of good practice.

* The European Social Fund is a powerful tool to improve the
employability of Roma and can be mobilised for a broad range of actions,
such as tailor-made vocational training. During the last programming
period 2000-2006, of the Structural Funds and the other financial
instruments available for Roma inclusion, some EUR 275 million were
devoted to projects specifically targeted at Roma. During the same time
approximately EUR 1 billion was spent on measures targeted at vulnerable
groups, including the Roma.

* The Commission will shortly launch a pilot project dedicated to
developing innovative and integrated approaches to tackling the
multidimensional problems facing Roma communities (a call for proposals
has just been published).

* The Commission also organises an internship scheme for young Roma
graduates in partnership with the Open Society Institute. 10 young Roma
join the Commission for five months to work as trainees twice a year.

* The EU, and in particular its Fundamental Rights Agency, is carrying
out research on key questions linked to discrimination and violence
against Roma as well as on specific problems, such as Roma housing and
freedom of movement...

What will happen next?

The European Commission will produce by the beginning of 2010 a report
representing a follow-up of its analysis of Community instruments and
policies for Roma inclusion (see IP/08/1072 ). This report will focus on
the progress achieved since mid-2008.

The future Spanish EU Presidency and the European Commission will
organise a 2nd European Roma Summit on 8 April 2010 in Cordoba to take
up the different strands of action. The first Roma Summit took place in
Brussels on 16 September 2008 – see IP/08/1326 end MEMO/08/559 .

How many Roma are living in the EU?

There is no precise figure available, as the number of Roma in the
European Union is subject to much speculation and the data most often
quoted is based on estimates. This reflects the sensitivity of
collecting data on ethnic populations in a number of Member States.

However, it is clear that the Roma population numbers millions of people
and that the number of Roma in the European Union has increased
considerably with the accession of the 12 new Member States.

Whom do we mean by “Roma”?

The term “Roma” is used as an umbrella term including groups of people
who share more or less similar cultural characteristics and a history of
persistent marginalisation in European societies, such as the Roma,
Sinti, Travellers, Ashkali, and Kale etc.

The European Commission is aware of the recurrent debate regarding the
use of the term Roma, and it has no intention to “assimilate” the
members of these other groups to the Roma themselves in cultural terms.
Nonetheless, it considers the use of “Roma” as an umbrella term
practical and justifiable within the context of a policy document which
is dealing above all with issues of social exclusion and discrimination,
not with specific issues of cultural identity..


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