European Commission releases Spring Package 2022 – What’s in it for Europe’s Roma?
On 23 May 2022, 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 2022 European Semester. This marks a return to the 2020 European Semester procedure, as – exceptionally – 2021 did not feature Country Reports or Country-Specific Recommendations. ERGO Network and its national members have reviewed the Package, to see to which extent it explicitly mentions Roma rights and inclusion, as well as ethnic minorities, discrimination, racism, and the role of civil dialogue.
Access the full analysis here.
- The accompanying Communication highlights the Roma as one of the most affected groups by the Covid-19 pandemic and speaks of improving their labour market inclusion.
- 7 Country Reports include references to the Roma (BG, HR, CZ, HU, RO, SK, SI) in 2022, which is one more than in 2020, but still insufficient as Roma live in 26 EU Member States.
- Only one Country-Specific Recommendation (HU) mentions the Roma, a slight improvement from 2020 (the first year with no Roma CSRs since 2012), but less than pre-2020.
- Ethnic minorities, discrimination, and racism are absent from both sets of documents, with only discrimination mentioned twice each in the Country Reports for 3 countries (BE, HR, IE).
- Civil society organisations were not associated to the drafting of the Country Reports, and the Spring Package references to their role are few and vague (7 Country Reports, 1 CSR).
Overall, while our members welcome references to Roma communities in some countries, they lament that most of the Spring Package 2022 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 dedicated 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, participation, and inclusion.
Our members equally express disappointment that issues of discrimination and antigypsyism are not present in the Package, as these have increased in recent years, and even more so during the pandemic. The fact that the country analyses and recommendations do not seek to establish explicit synergies with the EU and national Roma Frameworks is 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.