European Semester 2018: Will EU Members States include Roma in their National Reform Programmes?

European Semester 2018: Will EU Members States include Roma in their National Reform Programmes?

On 22 November the European Commission launched the 2018 Autumn Package of the European Semester, the first step in the annual cycle of economic and social policy coordination between the EU Members States and the Commission.

Each year, the European Commission produces an analysis of each country’s situation in a number of policy areas, including social policies. These “country reports”, together with the National Reform Programmes (NRPs) drafted by national governments, lay the ground for the so-called Country-Specific Recommendations (CSRs), which advise national governments on measures to take in their future policies. The country reports for 2018 will be released in February 2018.

Regularly the countries with large Roma populations (e.g. Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary and Czech Republic) receive the recommendation to speed up the implementation of their national Roma integration strategies and ensure that Roma are not left behind. So far, however, these recommendations were hardly taken into account.

In the Annual Growth Survey the European Commission sets out general policies and social priorities for the year ahead.  After a few years of focusing on macroeconomic reforms, for 2018 the survey finally highlights again the importance of social issues and brings up the importance of an integrated approach for the inclusion of vulnerable groups. This reflects the recently adopted European Pillar of Social Rights and gives hope that it will be taken seriously by the European Commission and Member States.

According to the Annual Growth Survey the top priorities for 2017-2018 relevant for Roma are:

  • Equal opportunities and access to the labour market
  • Promoting well-functioning labour markets and modern welfare systems
  • Job creation and fair working conditions
  • Social protection and inclusion to tackle inequality and poverty

ERGO Network hopes that the European Commission will continue to give priority to social issues in the next steps of the 2018 European Semester and will not overlook Roma in its country-specific recommendations as the most excluded minority in Europe. The implementation of the EU Roma Framework with its National Roma Integration Strategies should be supported by the European Semester.

ERGO Network urges the European Commission and the Members States that their response to social problems should not only be linked to employment, but also to the rise of antigypsyist attitudes that Roma are facing daily and that impediment their wellbeing in all spheres of their life.

More on the European Semester here.

Let actions follow words – Proclamation of European Pillar of Social Rights

Today, at the EU’s Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth in Gothenburg, the European Commission, European Parliament and European Council jointly proclaimed the European Pillar of Social Rights. The Social Pillar has been published on 26 April 2017 by the European Commission as a summary of existing EU social legislation. Its aim is to serve as a guide towards a more social Europe and ‘upward convergence’ of social policies in the EU Member States. The Pillar includes 20 principles under three chapters: Equal opportunities and access to the labour market; Fair working conditions; social protection and inclusion.

For Roma as the most marginalised ethnic minority in the EU, with 80% at risk of poverty, only 30% in paid work and only half attending pre-school education, the European Pillar of Social Rights could mean an important step forward – if EU Member States take their commitment for a more social Europe seriously.

ERGO Network strongly urges European leaders to make of the Social Pillar more than just a proclamation and prevent it from becoming an empty shell. After the important step today, it is now time to let actions follow words. The principles touch on issues such as protection against forced eviction, access to essential services, inclusive education and the right for children to protection from poverty – all issues that, if tackled properly, can mean a real advancement for the social inclusion of Roma in the EU.

Now is the time to put dedicated budgets in place to make a social Europe a reality – a Europe that pays particular attention to its most disadvantaged citizens and does everything it can to reduce inequalities.

ERGO Network asks for end to segregation of Romani children

ERGO Network asks for end to segregation of Romani children 10 years after landmark decision of European Court on Human Rights

Press release – Brussels – 15/11/2017

10 years ago 18 Romani children from Ostrava in Czech Republic received a positive verdict of the European Court on Human Rights, acknowledging that placing them in segregated substandard education for children with mental or intellectual impairments constitutes a violation of their human rights.

This decision on the D.H. case on 13 November 2007 constituted a turning point for Roma children and their families in Europe, as for the first time a court ruled that segregation in education is unlawful.

Still today, however, Roma children continue to be perceived as outsiders and intruders in European countries where they have lived for centuries and are often denied access to quality education.  In Central and Eastern Europe, segregation mechanisms channel on average30 percent of Roma students into ethnically segregated and lower quality schools and classes.

Gabriela Hrabanova, Director of ERGO Network, points out: “Putting our children into segregated schools is a direct manifestation of racism, deriving from the deeply embedded structural antigypsyism in the practice of authorities, institutions and society as a whole”.

Segregation in education does not only seriously harm the prospects of Roma students who don’t receive quality education, are at greater risk of poverty and are stigmatised for the rest of their lives; it denies all children the benefits of diversity in education and the chance to learn from one another. Parents need to be better informed and mobilised in order not to send their children to segregated schools.

ERGO Network calls on the European Union and its Member States to strictly follow-up on the infringement procedures for discrimination against Roma students launched against the governments of Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic and to step up their efforts to ensure equal citizenship of the 6 Million Roma in the EU.  This can include a local ex-ante conditionality for accessing EU funds that will put in place local desegregation plans, continued civil society monitoring on the implementation of National Roma Integration Strategies and the use of EU funds and stronger efforts to combat antigypsyism throughout the EU.

Download the press release here.

The European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network (ERGO) brings together over 25 (pro) Roma grassroots organisations from across Europe to empower communities, fight antigypsyism and achieve equal citizenship.

Contact: Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova (, +32 2 893 1049),

Closer to Communities – Roma Coordinators for better use of EU Funds

ERGO member Autonomia Foundation from Hungary recently published a set of recommendations based on the outcomes of their project “Closer to Communities – Roma Coordinators for better use of EU Funds”, supported by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Union.

The general purpose of the “Closer to Communities” programme was to increase the efficiency of projects benefitting from EU structural funds. The programme was implemented in 15 disadvantaged communities where a large number of Roma live – these communities were assisted by local Roma coordinators in their local development.   The Hungarian National Association of Local Authorities (TÖOSZ) participated in the implementation and supported the national dissemination of lessons learnt. ERGO Network contributed to the presentation and dissemination of results at international level.

As a result of the programme, 11 applications for Roma integration projects were submitted to EU Calls for Proposals, which will provide close to 1 Million Euro worth of local development funds if supported. Hundreds of local governments were directly informed of the project at the county forums and in workshops organized jointly with TÖOSZ. In addition, dozens of mayors were involved in discussions on Roma integration challenges and possible solutions. The experiences and suggestions of the project were presented at a working group meeting in Brussels with different experts and civil servants of the European Commission in May 2017.

The main recommendations focus on better dissemination of good practices, stronger conditionality of European funding, more transparent funding rules as well as more core funding for Roma and pro-Roma NGOs in order to act as independent watchdog organisations.

Read more about the project results and recommendations here.

As one outcome of the project, local communities took part in common art projects, focusing on community video making. Have a look at the film ‘Closer to Communities’ .

Evaluation of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020

In 2011 the European Commission adopted an EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies focussing on four key areas: education, employment, healthcare and housing. The Framework invited all Member States to present the European Commission with their strategy for Roma inclusion or for specific policy measures for the Roma within their wider social inclusion policies. The main responsibility as well as the competences to improve the situation of all marginalised people, including the Roma, rest with the Member States.

In their midterm review of the EU Framework published in September 2017, the European Commission asks particularly for improvements in the transition from education to employment and confirms ERGO Network’s assessment that in order to achieve more social inclusion, discrimination has to be better tackled: “The growing proportion of young Roma who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) is an alarming signal that translating results in education into employment and other areas requires a more effective fight against discrimination (p.2)”.

Public consultation

At the same time, the European Commission collects stakeholders’ views on the achievements and challenges faced during the years of implementation of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020. A public consultation aims to gather views on European and national policy, legal and funding instruments that have been mobilised to fight discrimination and to promote the inclusion of Roma.

We urge all our members and partners to take part in this consultation, which is still open until 25 October 2017. You can find the link here: