Promoting Roma inclusion
The Roma is Europe's largest minority group and also one of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. They frequently face intolerance, discrimination and exclusion. Improving the living conditions for Europe’s Roma population is a priority for the EEA and Norway Grants. Several programmes in twelve beneficiary countries address Roma-related issues.
A 2012 report by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), covering 11 EU countries, shows that Roma continue to experience high levels of deprivation and exclusion; of those surveyed, one in three is unemployed, 90% are living below the poverty line and many are denied access to adequate healthcare, housing and education.
All European countries have a responsibility to address the exclusion and discrimination of the Roma. Improving the situation of the Roma is also a joint European commitment. In 2011, the European Commission introduced an EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020. This sets clear targets and engages EU member states, civil society and other stakeholders to address the existing gaps between the Roma and the rest of society. The Council of Europe also adopted a strategy to improve the situation of the Roma.
Drawing on its long-standing expertise, the Council of Europe is engaged as a partner in several programmes targeting Roma inclusion, in particular in education.
The Grants also cooperate closely with the EU, including the European Commission and its Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) as well as with the Open Society Foundations.
The Grants feature a twofold approach in support to the Roma, combining perspectives of fundamental rights and of socio-economic inclusion.
Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have made the social and economic inclusion of the Roma a priority in the current funding period (2009-2014), ensuring that special measures are taken to include the Roma as a target group in relevant programmes in countries with a sizeable Roma minorities, such as Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. There are also programmes in additional five beneficiary states addressing Roma inclusion-related issues.
Read more about how the Grants support Roma inclusion in the policy document Roma inclusion in the EEA and Norway Grants - mainstreaming for results.
The Roma face challenges in different areas. It is therefore important to address the issues with a broad and comprehensive approach. The EEA and Norway Grants support Roma inclusion through programmes in the civil society sector, children and youth at risk, justice and home affairs, cultural diversity and health and education. Among the issues being addressed by these programmes is the information on access to healthcare and education, discrimination in the justice system, the promotion of intercultural dialogue and strengthening civil society organisations that address the violations of fundamental rights experienced by the Roma.
These efforts build on the measures that were taken in the previous period to tackle the problems experienced by Europe’s Roma population. Several projects in the funding period 2004-2009 addressed Roma children’s poor access to education. In Hungary and Slovakia, the EEA and Norway Grants allocated a total of €6 million to advancing Roma education and labour market integration. Roma inclusion was also addressed by several NGO projects and many Roma also benefited from other projects targeting disadvantaged groups within health and social services.