ERGO Network response to the Spring Package 2022 – What’s in it for Europe’s Roma?

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.

Key Findings

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.

European Commission releases Annual Sustainable Growth Survey (ASGS) 2022

European Commission releases Annual Sustainable Growth Survey (ASGS) 2022

What’s in it for Europe’s Roma?

On 24 November 2021, the European Commission published the Annual Sustainable Growth Survey 2022, accompanied by the draft Joint Employment Report 2022 (among other annexes), thus launching the European Semester 2022.

  • Read our full response to ASGS and the JER 2022 here!

The Annual Sustainable Growth Survey reaffirms that “the European Semester will remain the overall EU framework for the coordination of economic, employment and social policies”, while the Recovery and Resilience Facility remains “the key tool to implement the policy agenda” and is fully embedded in the European Semester. It also confirms the commitment to the four complementary dimensions of environmental sustainability, productivity, fairness, and macroeconomic stability.

For the second consecutive year, there is no mention of Europe’s Roma in this year’s Annual Sustainable Growth Survey and, unlike in previous years, there is equally no reference to ethnic or racial minority background. Similarly, the text contains no mention of antigypsyism or even discrimination anywhere in its content.

The main focus is on the green and digital transitions and, while social concerns are integrated as a component of these transitions and also have a dedicated section under the fairness objective, the prioritizing doesn’t seem to be at least on equal footing. The fairness section extensively covers education and training, as well as employment, however these are understood very narrowly from the perspective of their contribution to the twin transition. We appreciate the focus on combatting inequalities in education (including the digital divide) and the impetus to promote inclusion, diversity, and gender equality, as well as calls to stem energy poverty. However, we are missing references to ensuring access to fundamental services and rights, such as health or housing.

We are very pleased to see Europe’s Roma mentioned multiple times in the Joint Employment Report, concerning their heightened risk of experiencing poverty and social exclusion (including that of children), gaps in accessing education and training, school segregation, and the disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic (including on employment and income levels). Additionally, strong links are made to the EU Strategic Framework on Roma Equality, Inclusion, and Participation. However, disappointingly, while the document is quite extensive in covering Roma poverty and education, other thematic objective of the EU Roma Framework – employment, housing, health – are not covered at all in the Report. Equally, there is no mention of antigypsyism or racism.

Regarding civil dialogue, the Annual Sustainable Growth Survey only mentions civil society once, while the systematic involvement of social partners is much more consistently stressed. In the draft Joint Employment Report, civil society involvement is much better covered, with multiple references to its instrumental role as an important asset in implementing social and employment policies.

The ASGS also provides some clarity about the future of the European Semester, as well as what are the key steps and milestones to be expected for 2022. This year’s Semester will include the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility, that of the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, and – as a new element – that of the Sustainable Development Goals.

ERGO Network will continue to engage closely with the European Semester 2022, and strive to bring Roma rights and inclusion much more in focus in the delivery of these initiatives, and for better alignment of the priorities of the Semester and those of the EU Strategic Framework for Roma Equality, Participation, and Inclusion.

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.

ERGO Network report on National Recovery and Resilience Plans – Bulgaria update

ERGO Network report on National Recovery and Resilience Plans – Bulgaria update

In September 2021, we published our comprehensive analysis report of the National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs), prepared by EU Member States in the framework of the European Semester. We are now releasing an update of this report, which now covers 12 countries and also includes Bulgaria, where the NRRP was only submitted by the Government on 15 October 2021.

Access the report here

Member States submit National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs) – What’s in it for Europe’s Roma?

Member States submit National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs) – What’s in it for Europe’s Roma?

Over the past few months (April-July 2021), most Member States have submitted their National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs), in the framework of the 2021 European Semester.

The European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network and its national members have engaged closely with this process, with a view to ensure that Roma rights and inclusion were prioritised in the recovery efforts, following the Covid-19 pandemic. Roma people in Europe face poverty and social exclusion at rates of over 80% in most Member States, while their employment, education, health, housing, and other indicators are extremely low compared to the majority of the population, and antigypsyism and discrimination continue to be rampant. The coronavirus crisis only exacerbated this pre-existing situation.

ERGO Network conducted its own in-depth research, in the second part of 2020, on the impact of Covid-19 and associated measures on Roma communities in Europe. 1352 respondents from seven EU Member States (BE, BG, CZ, HU, IE, RO, SK), five Western Balkan countries (AL, B&H, NM, KO, RS) and Turkey provided evidence on how, despite some positive responses regarding immediate measures taken by some governments to assist vulnerable groups, including Roma and Travellers, the pandemic disproportionately hit these communities. You can access the full study here, and/or watch a short animated video of the key findings here.

Against this baseline, ERGO Network’s national members in 11 Member States have performed a detailed review of their countries’ National Recovery and Resilience Plans (AT, BE, CZ, FR, DE, HU, IE, LT, RO, SK, ES), to assess to what extent the Roma were being explicitly included in national reforms and investments to be supported through the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility. Read below a synthesis of this review, which also informed the Key Messages of this analysis:

1.  Only 5 of the 11 reviewed NRRPs (CZ, HU, RO, SK ES) explicitly refer to the Roma, despite the dire situation most of them were facing even before the pandemic, now much worsened. Our members deem most measures welcome, but insufficient to tackle root causes of exclusion.

2. None of the 11 reviewed NRRPs includes any references to antigypsyism, while more than half (7/11) also do not mention discrimination or racism. Those that do refer to discrimination only take into account gender equality, disability, sexual orientation, or migrant background.

3. The EU and National Roma Frameworks are absent from most (8/11) of the NRRPs reviewed (AT, BE, CZ, FR, DE, IE, LT, ES). When they are mentioned (HU, RO, SK), these are general references or problem statements, rather than concrete measures to bring about change.

4. None of the 11 Plans reviewed appears to prioritise the social inclusion of vulnerable groups, which is highly disappointing, but not surprising in a context where there was no earmarked minimum amount for social spending in the European Commission Guidance on the NRRPs.

5. All of our 11 national respondents indicated that the engagement of civil society in the drafting of the NRRPs was of poor quality, citing as main criticisms lack of information, unclear process, tight deadlines, lack of resources, and non take-up of submitted input.


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

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