04 April 2018
Last Updated: 04 April 2018
by Giacomo MANCA

Last year, the Salvation Army, with the help of many professionals active in Roma integration, produced a response on the evaluation of the EU framework for National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS), in the context of a EU consultation. On the 15th of March, the Salvation Army was invited, together with many other EU stakeholders, in a meeting at the European Commission disclosing the initial interpretation of the result of the consultation.

In general, all the stakeholders agree that the EU framework is a necessary tool to generate positive trends both in the member states and in the accession countries. The EU succeeds in bringing values and act as a push factor. The importance of structural funds in Roma inclusion is another side of the role of the EU, standing with member states which often would not implement Roma inclusion policies or would not provide sufficient funding to them. The progression made are however very limited, and even in education, the priority area which have seen the most progress, the decrease in drop-out rates is counterbalanced by an increased segregation of Roma pupils in special schools.

Priorities as health, housing conditions and employment have even registered a worsening of conditions. Gaps between Roma and non Roma people remain very high in the case of youth unemployment (NEETs), poor housing condition and in accession to health.
Many organisations claimed that after the refugees crises and the advent of a wave of right wing governments in many EU countries, Roma integration has ceased to be seen as a priority. For this reason, without a continued effort from the EU commission in Roma integration, any progress is unlikely to take place. Discrimination, hate crime and harassment continue to be matters of high concern in many European societies.

The lack of coherence between the overall goals from the EU or the operative programmes of the European Social Fund and the actual policy trends of many EU countries represents one of the biggest barriers to policy development. Other complains were linked to a plurality of aspects not mentioned in the framework, and therefore not addressed by many national strategies: the current Roma policy lacks a gender aspect, as well as a focus on children rights and wellbeing.
In addition, the framework lacks specific measurable targets, on the model of the Europe2020 strategy: the next framework for Roma integration should include specific targets, as well as specify how to measure them.

The finalised evaluation document will be published later in the year. In the meanwhile, there is consensus among the Civil Society on the importance of going on with the EU Framework for NRIS.

Tags: Europe