The exclusion and discrimination of the Roma population remain a great challenge for European societies. Despite some progress can be observed in recent years in terms of social inclusion, equal opportunities, and non-discrimination, according to a survey published by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), currently 80% of the Roma population is still at risk of poverty, employment and education rates are very low and almost one in two Roma people has felt discriminated against because of their ethnic origin.
On the other hand, the present moment is key when it comes to defining how the European Cohesion Policy Funds will be used, including the European Social Fund Plus (ESF +) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), two funds that can be very relevant for Roma inclusion and equality in the coming years. For this reason, the purpose of this publication, in which we have participated together with the European Network for the Inclusion of the Roma Population and the Fundación Secretariado Gitano, is to offer recommendations addressed to state and regional bodies and technical staff of the European Commission responsible for the programming of the Funds on how to establish an adequate basis to guarantee that the measures implemented through the FSE + and ERDF have a real impact and contribute effectively to reducing the exclusion and discrimination of the Roma population.
As a checklist, the publication lists and delves into the following recommendations:
- A greater and explicit commitment with social inclusion, equal opportunities and non-discrimination of Roma by Member States when planning EU Cohesion Funds 2021-2027.
- A higher alignment of measures programmed with EU regulations and recommendations and particularly with the challenges and objectives identified in the NSPF, EU Semester and CSRs.
- A better combination of mainstream and target approach to Roma equality and inclusion to ensure sustainability.
- More ambitious measures that allow Member States to plan and implement long-therm and large-scale programmes.
- More regional programmes that foresee measures under the Specific Objective on Roma equality and inclusion in line with the NSPF’s objectives and adapted to the challenges of each territory.
- Increase the programming of integrated measures aligned with the NSPF’s objectives and CSRs, Country Report challenges and the EU Semester.
- More comprehensive and integrated interventions aimed at Roma families, children, young people, women, and EU mobile Roma are programmed.
- More comprehensive and long-therm integrated measures that combine ESF+ with ERDF are programmed, reinforcing the complementarity use of these funds.
- A higher involvement of the National Roma Contact Points, Equality Bodies and Roma Civil Society Organisations in the programming phase (and entire management cycle) of EU Cohesion Funds 2021-2027 though adequate and quality participatory processes.
- Strengthening the administrative capacity of stakeholders for managing EU funds for Roma equality and inclusion.
The elements included in this checklist are based on the key programming documents that Member States have to elaborate when planning the implementation of EU Cohesion Funds 2021-2027:
- Partnership Agreement: aligned with the template included in the regulation.
- ESF Programmes: aligned with the template included in the regulation.
- ERDF Programmes: aligned with the template in the regulation.
- Other key recommendations: to ensure EU Cohesion Funds contribute to Roma equality and inclusion more effectively.