"The European Economic and Social Committee considers that the participation of Roma at all stages of decision-making is essential for achieving effective policies that can make a real difference to their situation within the EU. However, the tools available today are not sufficient in this regard"
The EESC has set up a permanent study group on Roma inclusion which will be monitoring the implementation the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies from the point on view of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
Anti-gypsyism and discrimination are important barriers to Roma enjoying full rights and this hearing plans to map possible avenues for redress for Roma, including equality bodies. The hearing will allow for the exchange of best practices on how Roma can address violations of their rights.
The hearing will explore EU funded projects and identify best practices and challenges. The main focus will be on the impact of funding on field work and on the design of projects and their implementation. Additionally, the sustainability of projects and absorption capacity will be discussed.
The PSG on the inclusion of the Roma will in its hearing on 15 November deal with segregation in education of Roma. Roma are often placed in special schools for children with learning disabilities. The Commission has launched infringement procedures against the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary for school segregation As segregation has negative consequences on school attainment it severely affects the Roma though their entire life and maintain them in a situation of deprivation and poverty.
Roma still remain the most underrepresented group on the labour market, with high numbers of unemployment. Due to the combination of various factors, such as poverty and deprivation, low levels of education and skills and discrimination in both education and employment, there are still serious structural barriers for Roma. Therefore they do not benefit from mainstream or targeted measures/initiatives. The Roma Platform is a high-level event that will provide an opportunity to discuss education and employment for Roma.
The PSG on the inclusion of the Roma will, at its 11 April hearing on "Addressing anti-gypsyism in ethnic profiling practices", be looking at ethnic profiling in relation to the Roma community. Roma face discriminatory practices by the police and in the court system, such as Roma-targeted police raids and proportionately more Roma people being charged than people who are not of Roma descent. Such practices contravene Article 21 (1) of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which prohibits discrimination on any grounds, such as race and ethnic origin. The PSG would like to highlight cases of malpractice in this domain, discussing examples from Member States, and also bring to light examples of good practice and discuss the way forward to help alleviate these problems.
At its hearing on 11 June (10.00-13.00 in meeting room VMA3), the Study Group on the Inclusion of the Roma will be discussing the employment and recruitment situation for the Roma and the discriminatory practices they endure in this regard.
The hearing will seek to discuss the existing forms of discrimination, their extent, as well as the effectiveness or otherwise of actions such as the public works' scheme in improving the Roma's situation in the labour market. It will identify best practices undertaken in Member States and discuss recommendations to counter discrimination in employment and recruitment.
Ahead of the international Roma Day on 8 April, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) will hold a hearing on "Anti-gypsyism, possible responses", which will feed into the work of the EESC permanent study group on Roma inclusion monitoring the implementation the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies.
Anti-gypsyism is an important barrier to the effective implementation of the framework and national integration strategies, and the hearing wants to shed light on possible responses to this cross-cutting problem. The European refugee crisis acerbates problems with general racism, xenophobia which also affects Roma. A hearing on anti-gypsyism and other forms of racism and xenophobia will allow exchanging best practices on how to combat these phenomena.
When it comes to Roma issues, the gender dimension has long been neglected. However, women have an essential role in Roma society and ensuring their participation is a key element in improving their situation. Romani women across Europe often face discrimination on multiple fronts: racism for being Roma, as well as gender discrimination.
It is not possible to speak about the inclusion of Roma if half of their community has little or no opportunity to express their needs and make their voice heard. Roma inclusion policy needs Roma women activists and advocates. The gender dimension can also play an important role in the success of National Roma Integration Strategies (NRISs).
Evictions remain a serious problem across Europe and the input session will draw the attention to similarities between evictions in different kind of countries.
The session will help raise awareness of the issues, and allow for interchange between Roma organizations across Europe and is part of the continuous work of the EESC to bring attention to Roma issues. This will also be an opportunity for the EESC to deepen its work on evictions, following the showing of a film on Roma evictions in Italy ("River Memories") followed by a debate on this issue.