EC Spring Package 2023 – What’s in it for Europe’s Roma?

European Commission releases Spring Package 2023 – What’s in it for Europe’s Roma?

On 24 May 2023, the European Commission published the so-called Spring Package, comprising the 27 Country Reports, 27 Country-Specific Recommendations, and the accompanying Communication on the Spring Package, in the framework of the 2023 European Semester. ERGO

Network and its national members have reviewed the Package, to see to which extent it explicitly mentions Roma rights and inclusion, ethnic minorities, discrimination, and racism, as well as to assess whether national civil society was involved in the drafting of the Country Reports.

  • Access the full analysis here.

Key Findings

  1. The Communication on the Spring Package mentions the Roma once, in the context of improving their labour market participation – nothing on health, housing, education, poverty.
  2. 7 Country Reports include references to the Roma (BG, CZ, GR, HU, IE, RO, SK) in 2023, the same number as in 2022, but still insufficient as Roma live in 26 EU Member States.
  3. Only one Preamble to Country-Specific Recommendations (HU) mentions the Roma, a step down from 2022, when Hungary received an actual Recommendation on Roma inclusion.
  4. Ethnic minorities, discrimination, and racism are absent from all documents, with only discrimination mentioned in passing in the Country Reports for Belgium and Slovakia.
  5. Civil society organisations were poorly associated to the drafting of the Country Reports, and the Spring Package references to their role are few and vague (4 Country Reports, no CSR).

Overall, while our members welcome references to Roma communities in some countries, they lament that most of the Spring Package 2023 doesn’t explicitly mention them, whereas the Roma are present in all Member States except Malta, and experience rates of poverty and social exclusion of over 80% in all of them except the Czech Republic. This situation was exacerbated by the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the rising cost of living and energy price spikes. As the Package itself highlights these very challenges, it would have warranted more attention paid to one of Europe’s most left-behind communities.

The recurrent focus on supporting just transitions and mitigating the consequences for vulnerable groups is very positive, however it is our members’ experience that, unless the Roma are explicitly named as key target beneficiaries of support measures, mainstream initiatives and broad national and EU funds end up not reaching them. Europe’s Roma must be specifically prioritised in the EU’s Recovery Package and associated funds, if the EU is serious about delivering on its commitments for Roma equality, inclusion, and participation by 2030.

Our members equally express disappointment that issues of discrimination and antigypsyism are not present in the Package, while these phenomena have increased in recent years. The fact that the country analyses and recommendations do not seek to establish explicit synergies with the EU and national Roma Frameworks, and with the National Action Plans against Racism, is considered a tremendous missed opportunity.

Finally, they deplore the lack of recognition and support given to civil society organisations in the documents, given that most of them are not only on the frontlines, providing essential support to communities in need, but they equally possess the knowledge, expertise, and direct links to beneficiaries which are needed to inform the design of public policies and ensure both ownership and effectiveness of interventions.

For more information about ERGO Network’s work on the European Semester and associated frameworks (European Pillar of Social Rights, Sustainable Development Goals etc), please contact Senior Policy Adviser Amana Ferro.

EC Spring Package 2023 – What’s in it for Europe’s Roma? – ERGO Network

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