Pessimistic preliminary assessment of national strategies
By Nathalie Vandystadt | Thursday 22 March 2012
After much delay, the member states of the Union have finally all submitted their national Roma integration strategies. However, the Commissioner who is due to assess them, Viviane Reding (justice), has already expressed her scepticism about the quality of these commitments, calling them “pretty words” lacking substance – in other words lacking concrete, quantifiable and clear objectives and ambitious deadlines.
“The assessment of the strategies has not been finalised yet. However, I can say already that there is still a lot of room for improvement, in particular when it comes to securing sufficient funding for Roma inclusion and putting monitoring mechanisms in place,” said Reding at a meeting of the Roma Integration Platform, on 22 March. This platform brings together representatives from the Roma community, the member states, the EU institutions, NGOs and academics. The Commission will hand in its report late April.
By 31 December 2011, the member states had to draw up or consolidate a strategy to help integrate their Roma community via four priorities: education, employment, health care and accommodation (and basic related services, such as water and electricity). The Commission also called for a better use of EU funds.
Amnesty International is one step ahead and has already assessed the national strategies in a study that includes the opinions of NGOs and organisations that represent the Roma. Amnesty reports that “At a time when attitudes towards Roma are becoming increasingly hostile, the survey unfortunately reveals the lack of emphasis placed on measures targeting anti-Gypsyism in the national strategies. A majority of respondents report that there was no mention of anti-discrimination and the fight against anti-Gypsyism at all in the strategies or that some measures are planned but are insufficient.” Michael Privot, president of the European Roma Policy Coalition (ERPC), said: “Putting an end to anti-Gypsyism must be an integral part of the national Roma integration strategies. Although addressing the gaps in employment, health, education and housing is important, there will be no progress without making the elimination of anti-Gypsyism a key priority of the national strategies”. The associations that defend Roma rights are also pointing at the lack of consultation and transparency in the elaboration of national strategies. Once the strategies have been assessed, the Commission will not be able to do much to demand corrections. The Commission has no power to sanction the states since the priorities chosen are all part of national policies. The Commission will nonetheless continue to exercise political pressure to ensure that all the strategies are implemented. One way the Commission can do this is through its annual reports on the progress made by the states.
Amnesty International speaks out against the lack of ambition displayed to counter anti-Gypsyism