The EESC welcomes and is encouraged by the recent steps taken by the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Council, other EU bodies, and the Member States to achieve inclusion and integration of the European Roma.
The findings of the study commissioned by the EESC and carried out in 27 Member States show that apart from a lack of information and general dissatisfaction, there is also widespread frustration and distrust among spokespersons for the Roma community, civil society organisations and their representatives. It seems that the National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS) have not met the growing expectations of the Roma or their sincere hope that the strategies could really help improve social integration.
The instruments and resources available for implementation of the NRISs appear insufficient to compensate for the continuing negative impact of discrimination and exclusion.
The Committee feels that a rights-based approach to planning and implementation of NRISs is needed to ensure human and fundamental rights and that combating discrimination should be a priority in all areas of public life.
The EESC is in favour of the European Commission's planned network of national Roma contact points, if it is endowed with the requisite powers, and emphasises that organised civil society, including Roma organisations and lobbies, must be fully involved throughout the development of NRISs (planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation).
NRIS monitoring and evaluation must be stepped up on a sound, scientific basis, with the involvement of independent observers. At the same time, systems must be put in place to ensure financing for this process.