Western Balkans summit

Declaration on Roma integration in the EU enlargement processs signed at Western Balkans Summit

The sixth annual summit within the Berlin Process Initiative for European integration of Western Balkans states was held between 3rd and 5th of July 2019 held in Poznań.

At the initiative of North Macedonia, the Western Balkan countries signed a Declaration on Roma integration in the EU enlargement process as a pledge for their reiterated commitment to continue and enhance efforts for full equality and integration of Roma through implementation of specific set of measures in the areas of employment, education, housing, health, civil registration and non-discrimination.

With the Declaration they pledge to achieve the following objectives:

  • A. Employment: Increase the employment rate of Roma in the public sector to the rate proportional of the participation of Roma in the overall population; Increase the employment rate among Roma to at least 25% percent;
  • B. Housing: Wherever possible, legalize all informal settlements where Roma live; or provide permanent, decent, affordable and desegregated housing for Roma currently living in informal settlements that cannot be legalized for justified reasons;
  • C. Education: Increase the enrolment and completion rate of Roma in primary education to 90 percent and the enrolment and completion rate of Roma in secondary education to 50 percent;
  • D. Health: Ensure universal health insurance coverage among Roma to at least 95 percent or to the rate equal to the rest of the population;
  • E. Civil Registration: Ensure all Roma are registered in the civil registries;
  • F. Non-Discrimination: Strengthen the government structures to protect against discrimination and establish a specific sub-division for non-discrimination of Roma within the formal non-discrimination bodies to process complaints by Roma, provide legal support to alleged victims and identify discrimination schemes, including institutional and hidden discrimination.

Governments of the Western Balkan countries understand that progress on Roma integration is progress towards enlargement. The participation of strong Roma civil society organizations from the countries of the region was crucial.
National Roma civil society organizations from the Western Balkan countries have been strongly represented in the Summit, and their presence was of crucial importance to this process. Sitting alongside the government representatives, the message they sent is that the Roma civil society organizations in the Western Balkans have grown and are consolidated to be considered a partner in the activities and actions towards Roma integration, but also showing that Roma civil society organizations may play an important and critical role in the monitoring and guiding governmental institutions in their Roma inclusion processes.


RCC also introduced the results of the Balkan Barometer 2019, which showed “modestly optimistic” regional perceptions and attitudes across a wide array of social, political and economic factors impacting life in South East Europe.

New reports about racism and inequality in the UK

New reports about racism and inequality in the UK

The “Report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on her visit to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” has been published and makes specific reference to Gypsies, Roma and Travellers.

The UN Special Rapporteur E. Tendayi Achiume stated in her report that the UK Government’s policies exacerbate discrimination, stoke xenophobic sentiment and further entrench racial inequality. It highlights persistent racial disparities in, among others, education, employment, housing, health, surveillance, interactions with police, prosecutions, and incarceration.

“The structural socio-economic exclusion of racial and ethnic minority communities in the United Kingdom is striking,” the Special Rapporteur said in her report, based on a fact-finding visit to the country in April and May 2018.

“Notwithstanding the existence of a legal framework devoted to combating racial discrimination, the harsh reality is that race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability status and related categories all continue to determine the life chances and well-being of people in Britain in ways that are unacceptable and, in many cases, unlawful.”

During her fact finding visit to the country in April and May 2018 she held a special meeting with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller organisations.

The full report of the Women and Equalities Committee “Tackling inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities” was produced in April 2019:

The Government has now produced its response to this in which it states that “the Government agrees that an ambitious programme of work needs to be undertaken in order to tackle inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government will lead in co-ordinating a cross-Government strategy to improve outcomes for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. The ministry will work closely with other Government departments including the Race Disparity Unit within the Cabinet Office, the Department for Education, the Department of Health and Social Care, the Government Equalities Office and the Home Office to develop the strategy.”

This follows years of pressure from NGOs, including the civil society monitoring reports and the “Experts by Experience” report of the National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups and will be a “Roma Integration Strategy” in all but name. The Strategy won’t be operational until 2020 to give time for community input into its formulation, but the commitment to produce it is a positive move and we will be working alongside other NGOs to ensure that the Strategy is “bottom up” rather than merely being imposed from above.

Save the Date

Before the summer break, we are announcing the dates for some important events in the second half of the year. Mark the dates in your calendar – more information will follow soon!

20-23 October: Annual Members Meeting in Skopje, North Macedonia

20 October: Meetings of the ERGO Network Board, Advisory Committee and Working Groups (Skopje, North Macedonia)

25-27 November: Coordination meeting of ‘Roma Included in Social Europe’ programme (Brussels)

25 November: ERGO Network conference on ‘Education: how to achieve policy change in hostile environments?’ (Brussels)

Towards a more holistic approach to Roma inclusion

Towards a more holistic approach to Roma inclusion in the EU: stronger policy mainstreaming and focus

The long term perspective of the Roma inclusion process implies that, at this stage, expecting major socioeconomic impact of the Roma integration process is premature. Although the necessary policies, tools and structures linked with the inclusion of Roma were put in place in the Member States, the actual implementation is still at an initial phase without mainstreaming them in the EU general policy initiatives.

Existing assessments of implementation of the social inclusion policies and programmes at EU and national level revealed that the policies and programs did not reach marginalised groups, and did not manage to improve the situation of Roma. This is why ERGO Network, with contributions from its allies, published a policy paper that provides specific recommendations on possible ways of mainstreaming Roma inclusion in the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework and post 2020 EU Roma Framework, key recommendations for the mainstream policies, and finally, not only initiatives/actions that should be taken by the European Commission, but also those that should be taken by Member States.

Alliance against Antigypsyism: new recommendations

Alliance against Antigypsyism offers recommendations and concrete measures to combat antigypsyism for the future EU and national policies

The Alliance against Antigypsyism has recently published two new policy papers.  The first offers recommendations to combat antigypsyism for future EU and national policies to ensure they are comprehensive and no dimension or manifestation of antigypsyism is omitted. The Alliance also went one step further and proposes concrete measures to combat antigypsyism In their paper “Developing measures to combat antigypsyism after 2020: Guidance for European and national stakeholders”.

Both papers aim to inspire European and national stakeholders to contribute to combating exclusion of Roma. They could be used as guide for EU Member States and Candidate Countries to update their current national strategies or create new strategies that can respond to antigypsyism. With the papers we also want to enter the narratives and practice of the new European Parliament and the European Commission. There has been a tremendous work done by civil society and EU institutions in the last years and it is now the time for Roma rights advocates to make sure that the new parliamentarians and the new Commission follow-up and continue to create policies and legislations that reflect realities of Roma people in Europe.

Roma and pro-Roma activists are invited to adapt these recommendations and measures to their context, use the ideas the Alliance put forward to advocate on national and local levels. These papers are a result of the work led by the European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network, Central Council for German Sinti and Roma and European Network against Racism, with inputs of more than 25 other Roma and pro-Roma organisations and individual experts.