Roma people are the biggest ethnic minority in the EU with an estimated population of approximately six million. Many still face prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion in their daily lives, although they have been an integral part of European civilisation for more than a thousand years. The EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS) and the Council recommendation on effective Roma integration measures in the Member States promote their active inclusion and support Member States in addressing Roma inclusion. Most Member States have now adopted NRIS.
Evidence on the situation of Roma in employment, education, housing and health provided by the European Fundamental Rights Agency shows that progress on implementing NRIS has been slow. Discrimination and anti-Gypsyism persist and de facto segregation in housing and education still affects many Roma.
The EESC has set up a permanent study group on the inclusion of the Roma, composed of 9 members from various EESC sections covering different policy areas and representing employers, workers and various interests. The goals of this group are to:
- gather the views of civil society on the implementation of NRIS and promote their active involvement,
- provide opportunities for civil society, in particularly Roma organisations, to be heard, and to identify and share good practices,
- report and issue recommendations on Roma inclusion.