How realistic is the new EU programming period when it comes to Roma?
Last month the European Commission has launched their proposals for the next European Union Multi Annual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027 called “A Modern Budget for a Union that Protects, Empowers and Defends”. The MFF is meant to increase solidarity, social cohesion and social protection and will be supported by a series of proposals and financial instruments such as ESF+ ERDF, InvestEU, Eramsus+ etc. These proposals are under discussions and until the final approval in 2019.
ERGO Network fed into the process of the European Commission in drafting and proposing new priorities for its programmes and frameworks targeting Roma through a set of specific recommendations in which we address a number of shortcomings that must be tackled in the next cycle.
The proposed MFF did mentions some general points that are in line with our suggestions, such as the fact that there should be an open and transparent monitoring process, that the EU funds shall not support actions that promote segregation and that there should be more focus on capacity building for civil society organisations.
Roma are mentioned in the proposal of the MFF: “promoting socio-economic integration of third country nationals and of marginalised communities such as the Roma”. However, this narrative implies that they are still not seen as European citizens; furthermore there are no specific indicators that would reflect a stronger focus on Roma inclusion in the current proposal. The annexes of the proposal only briefly mention that there should be “inclusion of the thematic enabling conditions such as National Roma Integration Strategy”.
ERGO Network also calls upon the European Council and the European Parliament to ensure in their negotiations that the EU Framework for Roma Integration will continue. The ERGO secretariat together with the Alliance against Antigypsyism sent recommendations to Members of the European Parliament ahead of the European Parliament plenary debate on 13th of June on the Implementation of and follow-up to the EU framework for National Roma Integration Strategies. Our position was clearly strengthened by most of the European Parliament Members. They argued in favour of a renewed post-2020 EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies, which should address antigypsyism as a central priority.
However, the 25% earmarking for social inclusion under the ESF+ , the main fund supporting Roma inclusion, is still not enough. So far most of the EU member states have easily reached this amount in the current ESF framework and still there has been little or no progress in tackling poverty, discrimination and social exclusion.
Without a clear Framework, thematic objectives and specific budget lines, Roma, as the biggest minority in the EU, will again be lost in the new programming period mixed under the marginalized groups and competing with “third country nationals”
ERGO will continue to monitor the discussions and negotiations in Brussels and ask a strengthened EU Roma Framework with clear objective and indicators and sufficient resources to address inclusion and Antigypsyism.