A key objective of the consultation was to collect views on the implementation of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies launched in 2011 and running until 2020. The consultation aimed in particular at gathering opinions on the achievements and challenges at European and national level during the first five years of implementation in the areas of education, employment, healthcare, housing and discrimination. The public consultation also asked about key priorities for the European and national level to which extra efforts should be attributed.
When comparing the situation today to that in 2011, a majority of the respondents indicated that there has been no major change regarding the situation of Roma in employment, healthcare, housing and discrimination. On the positive side, almost half of the respondents stated that the situation with regard to education has improved since 2011.
The survey confirmed that Roma continue to be disadvantaged in society due to multiple causes, including in particular discrimination and negative attitudes of the majority society, limited political commitment and lack of Roma participation in the development of inclusion measures.
Key challenges identified by the respondents include the insufficient mainstreaming of Roma inclusion in other policies and instruments at both European and national level, rising discrimination and antigypyism especially at European level and insufficient funding allocated to Roma inclusion at the national level.
Equinet were among the organisations taking part in the survey and providing position papers which highlighted that Roma communities continue to face multiple disadvantage in education, employment, health and access to housing. Our participation built on a number of Equinet initiatives on Roma Equality:
An Equinet survey of its members in 2009 found that across the European Union, a high level of unequal treatment and exclusion of Roma and Traveller people exists. Roma and Travellers are deeply marginalised from social and economic life, which in many Member States is increased through stereotyping in the media and a negative culture within the police force. Particularly problematic areas in terms of discrimination are housing, accommodation, education and social services in the public sector and access to insurance, shops and a wide range of recreational and leisure services in the private sector. At the same time the majority of equality bodies have found that underreporting of discrimination is widespread, with reasons for this phenomenon including low levels of awareness of rights within the Roma and Traveller communities, time limits on the presentation of cases and issues of trust between the communities and the authorities.
Following the survey, an ad hoc initiative on Roma and Travellers was established with the aim of providing support to specialised equality bodies maximizing the impact of their work on the situation of Roma people. The initiative involved the exchange of information and networking between specialised equality bodies working on Roma issues, identifying the nature and extent of this work. A further output was the publication “Making equality legislation work for Roma and Travellers”.
In 2016, Equinet and the OPRE Platform (see below) released a joint statement, calling on national governments to stop forced evictions of gypsies and travellers. The statement highlights the long-term negative implications of eviction that can result in physical and psychological problems, including emotional trauma and lasting social isolation, which particularly affects elderly people, women, children, and people with disabilities.
On 13 November 2017, the 10th anniversary of the landmark judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on the segregation of Roma children in education, equality and human rights Equinet and other international institutions released a joint call to action for a redoubling of efforts to bring children together in the spirit of Europe’s commitment to dignity, equality and human rights.
In 2016, the Working Group on Equality Law developed a discussion Paper entitled Fighting discrimination on the ground of Race and Ethnic Origin. It discusses the key legal issues and challenges, available tools and good practices in fighting discrimination on the ground of race and ethnic origin, including a focus on work done to combat discrimination against Roma people. 17 out of 19 equality bodies indicated that Roma tend to find themselves in particularly vulnerable situations compared to other racial and ethnic minorities.
This paper fed into a capacity-building seminar for staff members of equality bodies on discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity, organised together with the Hungarian Commissioner for Fundamental Rights in November 2016. Among other topics the seminar had sessions focusing specifically on legal work and on work done to combat discrimination against Roma people.
Equinet is a member of the OPRE platform, which is the result of the joint conference of the Council of Europe, the European Network of Equality Bodies (Equinet), the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI) and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), which took place in October 2013 in Vienna. The conference set the scene for closer cooperation among national bodies and between national and international bodies. It was agreed to establish such platforms for collaboration on pressing topics such as asylum and migration, Roma integration, combating hate crime, and advancing social and economic rights and socio-economic equality.