ERGO Network launches its research report on Roma access to adequate minimum income schemes

ERGO Network launches its research report on Roma access to adequate minimum income schemes

The European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network is holding today, 23 November, its annual Policy Conference, entitled “Implementing the EU Roma Strategic Framework. Roma access to adequate minimum income.”

Europe’s Roma experience some of the worst social inclusion indicators, with over 80% living in poverty, only 43% in paid employment, and 41% experiencing antigypsyism. This situation worsened significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic, with Roma communities being disproportionately hard hit. In a cash-based economy, providing people with adequate 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.

Access to adequate minimum income and social protection is the cornerstone of the European Social Model and our welfare states, and it needs to be guaranteed also for Europe’s Roma. The EU Council Recommendation of 24 June 1992 on Common criteria concerning sufficient resources and social assistance in social protection systems clearly urges Member States “to recognize the basic right of a person to sufficient resources and social assistance to live in a manner compatible with human dignity as part of a comprehensive and consistent drive to combat social exclusion.” This commitment is reaffirmed in the EU Active Inclusion Recommendation (2008) and the European Pillar of Social Rights (2017).

During 2021, ERGO Network conducted in-depth national case studies in five countries (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia), looking at existing minimum income schemes and assessing to what extent they are accessible to Roma applicants, and whether they are adequate for promoting Roma inclusion and dignity. The main findings and recommendations were brought together in an EU synthesis report, launched today in the framework of the above-mentioned event.

With this research, we aim to kick-start a debate with policy makers on how to improve the adequacy and take-up of 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). Access to sufficient financial resources is also a key element of reducing Roma poverty and social exclusion, which is one of the three horizontal objectives of the EU Roma Strategic Framework on Equality, Inclusion, and Participation.

For more information about ERGO Network’s work on adequate minimum income and social protection for Roma, as well as on Roma poverty and social exclusion (European Semester, European Pillar of Social Rights, etc), please contact Senior Policy Adviser Amana Ferro.

ERGO NETWORK SNAPSHOT OF GENDER EQUALITY AND WORK-LIFE BALANCE

ERGO Network Snapshot of Gender Equality and Work-Life Balance

Check out this week’s thematic Snapshot in our series on #Roma inclusion and the European Pillar of #SocialRights! Today’s focus is on fostering Roma #women’s equal access to rights, resources, and services, while ensuring that reproductive work is shared.

Check the snapshot here.

#SocialPillar4Roma

ERGO Network Snapshot of: Education, Training and Lifelong Learning

ERGO Network Snapshot of: Education, Training and Lifelong Learning

We are launching our series of thematic “Snapshots” on #Roma inclusion and the European Pillar of #SocialRights! Tune in every Tuesday between now and February 2022 for a new instalment. Check out the first one today–how to provide the Roma with equal opportunities to quality and inclusive#education,#training, and lifelong learning?

Check the snapshot here.

#SocialPillar4Roma

ERGO responds to the EPSR Action Plan

ERGO Network responds to the Action Plan for the European Pillar of Social Rights

On 4 March 2021, the European Commission proposed an Action Plan for the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights (Social Pillar), aiming to turn its 20 policy principles into concrete policy actions. The European Commission has pledged to make the Social Pillar “the compass of Europe’s recovery and our best tool to ensuring no one is left behind”.

The Action Plan draws on a wide-scale public consultation, which received over 1000 responses, including ERGO Network’s comprehensive position paper How to ensure that the European Pillar of Social Rights delivers on Roma equality, inclusion, and participation?, where each of the 20 principles is explained in terms of its implications for Roma rights, including relevant thematic statistics and concrete policy recommendations.

=> Access ERGO Network’s full response to the Action Plan

ERGO Network warmly welcomes the inclusion of the EU Strategic Framework and Council Recommendation on Roma Equality, Inclusion, and Participation as an integrant policy action of the Social Pillar Action Plan, which firmly anchors the delivery on the EU Roma Framework under the umbrella of the Social Pillar and throughout the European Semester.  Unfortunately, the European Roma are only mentioned once in the rest of the document, exclusively in relation to employment. It is a missed opportunity not to have a specific focus on the Roma also in other areas, such as skills, equality, and poverty.

More encouragingly, ethnic minorities or ethnic background are referred to several times. While wording could have been stronger, the mentions are very welcome, as they uphold and mainstream Principle 3, Equal Opportunities. The plight of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups is highlighted a few times throughout the text, and the Action Plan includes several welcome references to combatting discrimination. While this is positive, unfortunately the document falls short of mainstreaming a true anti-discrimination approach in all its areas.

ERGO Network further welcomes the fact that the Action Plan includes concrete, quantifiable targets, on employment, education, and poverty reduction. These mirror objectives also included in the EU Strategic Framework for Roma Equality, Participation, and Inclusion – though the links are, sadly, not made explicit in the Action Plan. While equality is combined with the target on skills, there is no corresponding measurable objective. Moreover, the Equality section of the Action Plan focusses exclusively on gender equality and the inclusion of people with disabilities. It is unfortunate that other groups did not receive the same attention, particularly as their thematic EU strategies are clearly mentioned as falling under the scope of the Social Pillar.

We further appreciate that the implementation of the Action Plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights will be explicitly monitored through the European Semester and the National Recovery and Resilience Plans. While the targets set minimum standards, it is hoped that Member States will raise the level of ambition in defining their own national targets. In this context, we very much welcome the European Commission’s encouragement to Member States to collect data disaggregated by racial or ethnic origin, in line with the EU Anti-Racism Action Plan.

ERGO Network very much welcomes that the revised Social Scoreboard will also apply in enlargement countries, as part of the Economic Reform Programme (ERP) process, while the Instrument of Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) III will pro­vide increased funding for a flagship initiative to implement Youth Guarantee schemes, as part of the dialogue with Western Balkans.

Member States are encouraged to make use of the full range of EU funds available to implement the Action Plan, but no specific earmarking of funds is connected to the targets of the Pillar, and there is no minimum social expenditure foreseen for the Recovery and Resilience Facility. The European Commission must issue clear guidelines to Governments and Managing Authorities for allocations to be made for the vulnerable and Roma especially – including through a corresponding enabling condition and Roma-specific indicator.

It is very positive that civil society is mentioned explicitly and repeatedly as a partner for the implementation of the Action Plan, and Member States are encouraged to ensure engagement of all relevant stakeholders. The Action Plan will only be effective if it achieves wide ownership by beneficiaries, and if it is rooted in direct evidence from the ground. Roma communities and their NGO representatives must be involved at all stages of policy design, delivery, and monitoring.

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

How to ensure that the European Pillar of Social Rights delivers on Roma equality, inclusion, and participation?

How to ensure that the European Pillar of Social Rights delivers on Roma equality, inclusion, and participation?

This paper sets out ERGO Network’s analysis and policy recommendations so that the implementation of the Social Pillar does not leave the European Roma2 behind. It builds on the direct experience of our national members on the ground, and it aims to draw positive reinforcing links between the Social Pillar and the recently adopted EU Strategic Framework for Roma Equality, Participation, and Inclusion.

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