ERGO Network Annual Policy Conference 2021

Implementing the EU Roma Strategic Framework. Roma access to Minimum Income

This past 23 November, ERGO Network organised its Annual Policy Conference, once again online. This year’s was dedicated to exploring how to improve Roma access and take-up of adequate minimum income schemes, as well as taking stock of the implementation of the EU and National Roma Frameworks.

Access to adequate minimum income and social protection is the cornerstone of the European Social Model, and it needs to be guaranteed also for Europe’s Roma. In a cash-based economy, providing people with sufficient financial resources is a necessary pre-requisite for fighting poverty and social exclusion, as well as for enabling individuals to reach their full potential and to access rights and opportunities on the labour market and in society. During the recovery from the devastating economic crisis due to the pandemic, this is today more important than ever.

The event launched ERGO Network’s research report on “Roma access to adequate minimum income”, based on five national case studies carried out in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. The main findings and recommendations aim to kick-start a debate on how to improve the adequacy and take-up on minimum income and social protection by Roma in Europe, including in the framework of the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, and the foreseen Council Recommendation on Minimum Income (2022).

The Key Messages of the report are:

  1. In 4 out of 5 countries, minimum income benefits are inadequate.
  2. Governments favour a punitive approach over personalised, inclusive support.
  3. Complex application processes and requirements deter many Roma from applying.
  4. Public Employment Services are ill-equipped to deal with Roma applicants.
  5. Roma minimum income recipients are stigmatised and face antigypsyism.
  6. Roma communities and civil society must be involved as equal partners.
  7. EU action is needed: a Framework Directive, a European Year, better control of EU funds

After advocating effectively for the adoption of a strong EU Roma Strategic Framework up to 2030, it is essential to now continue to monitor its implementation and the adoption of corresponding National Frameworks in EU Member States and Western Balkan countries. Unfortunately, the targets set out in the framework are often too low or non-ambitious, and while participation is made more visible than in the previous period, there are very few commitments made in this area, and the implementation of the EU framework remains entirely up to national governments.

The second part of the event took stock of the status of adoption of the National Roma Strategic Frameworks and the engagement and participation of (pro-)Roma civil society in the drafting of the National Roma Frameworks. In the absence of a binding character of the EU Framework, the event assessed how serious is the commitment of governments to tackle antigypsyism and improve living conditions of Roma, while it also emphasised the role of the Roma civil society and the Roma Civil Monitor in monitoring the National Roma Frameworks, and that of Equality Bodies in enforcing the fight against discrimination and antigypsyism.

The event ended with concluding remarks on the need to increase complementarity between the EU Roma Strategic Framework and the EU Action Plan Against Racism in tackling antigypsyism and racism against Roma by Member States, as well as ensure better synergies between different relevant EU frameworks, and increase the emphasis on social rights as more effective means to tackle antigypsyism, poverty and social exclusion of Roma.

The conference was very well attended with over 60 participants, and it brought together ERGO Network national members from the grassroots level in many European countries, as well as other national practitioners, European civil society organisations, EU policy-makers from the European Parliament and the European Commission, and other stakeholders.

If you attended this event, or watched the recording, don’t forget to let us know what you thought about it by filling in this Evaluation Form. Thank you!

See more:

– Agenda of the event

Full recording of the Facebook livestream

– ERGO Network minimum income research report

– Photo album

Conference Report

Visuals provided by 500 markers.

For more information about this event, please don’t hesitate to contact us: info@ergonetwork.org