12th European Platform for Roma Inclusion Health and housing inequalities
From 8-9 October 2018 the 12th European Platform for Roma inclusion took place in Brussels with a special focus on health and housing inequalities faced by Roma people. The annual platform is organised by the Roma coordination unit of the European Commission Directorate General for Justice and Consumers, in consultation with Roma and pro-Roma civil society. It brings together civil society, experts, national governments, European institutions and Roma people from local level who are experts in the field of health and housing.
Health and housing are two out of the four key priorities of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies.
The event started on 8 October with the opening panel, followed by a theatre performance given by Ara Art “And Again we slept Pindral”. The play took the audience through the history of Roma culture and music through storytelling.
On the second day two political panels and two workshops on housing inequalities and health focused on identifying challenges that are drivers of social exclusion. ERGO Network’s Director Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova facilitated the workshop on social housing and ERGO’s policy and research coordinator Jelena Jovanovic was the rapporteur that brought the key messages from the workshop to the political panel.
In the political panel Vera Jourova, Commissioner for Fundamental Justice, stated: “I want to evaluate in depth the EU Framework for National Integration Strategies and to focus on smart EU funding for the next programming period”. Equal treatment of Roma and mainstreaming of Roma inclusion are the key priorities of the European Agenda and post 2020 programs.
The general messages that were pointed out by the participants:
- The EU and Member States should use human rights approaches when developing health policies, and Roma health policies in particular.
- European Commission should consider earmarking funding for EU-wide advocacy coalitions and strategic/impact litigation that aims at identifying structural deficiencies and discrimination potential of member states’ legislation, when it comes to Roma.
- Developing and reinforcing measures effectively targeting antigypsyism and discrimination against Roma.
- Poor data: Mapping of the situation of Roma in housing; demolitions are often ongoing and nobody knows how many people are affected by the situation.
- Antigypsyism: should be tackled with mainstream and targeted approaches with reinforced measures.
- Harmful initiatives/bad investments: political will has to be increased and the knowledge of the responsible actors improved.
- Lack of awareness of ‘mainstream’ measures: Relevant EU policies have not been yet mainstreamed at the national level. One of the needs identified during the workshop is raising awareness and implementation at national level of the European Pillar of Social Rights and specifically of Principle 19 (that includes three relevant issues – social housing, forced evictions and homelessness)
The participants repeated their call from the Platform 2017 for the importance of empowerment and involvement of Roma in decision-making by ensuring Roma participation in every phase of the policy cycle (design, implementation, coordination, monitoring and evaluation, review), including at local level.