Last week, Eurodiaconia participated in the European Grassroots Roma Organisations Network’s (ERGO) Annual Policy Conference. This year, the focus was on ensuring access to adequate minimum income for Roma and assessing the EU Roma Strategic Framework.
The first panel, moderated by Eurodiaconia Policy Officer, Stefan Kitzmann, discussed Roma access to adequate minimum income schemes and social protection. To begin, Dr Katalin Nagy presented ERGO’s 2021 case study research in five countries; Bulgaria, Czechia, Hungary, Romania & Slovakia. They found that in 4 of the 5 cases, minimum income support was inadequate at a structural level, not reflecting real world conditions and failing to bring people above the poverty line. This echoed Social Platform’s perspective that, across Europe, social support systems are inadequate compared to the needs of the most vulnerable. Silvana Roebstorf, of Social Platform, brought clarity to the stark choices that families are faced with – between heating their homes or being able to cook a meal. Katalin Szatmári, from DG EMPL at the European Commission, clarified the role of the EU in ensuring access to minimum income. She explained that, while this is the responsibility of member states, the EU plays a key role in guiding, monitoring, and influencing the direction of support measures. In concluding the panel, Stefan reaffirmed Eurodiaconia’s support for a directive on adequate minimum income and truly inclusive income support measures. It is time to move from words to substance and to take ambitious action.
Following on from this, the second panel addressed the implementation of the EU Roma Strategic Framework (RSF), national Roma strategies and the commitment of member states to combatting antigypsyism. In total, nine member states were said to have submitted updated national strategies by the September deadline, with the Commission opting to prioritise quality over timeliness by allowing submissions until the end of the year.
In the enlargement space, countries are also making efforts to integrate the RSF in their own strategies and policies regarding Roma. ERGO conducted a survey, within member states, to assess the extent to which civil society was consulted in the development of national strategies. The results of which are mixed, with some consensus that there was a lack of clarity from governments about how they would develop their plans. Accordingly, the role of the forthcoming Roma Civil Monitor (2021-2025) was also discussed, with attention paid to its role in empowering Roma and pro-Roma organisations, as well as monitoring progress in the coming years.
The conference concluded with an awareness that there is still much to be done to make real progress for Roma people across Europe. There is a need to ensure that strategies, frameworks and directives are implemented properly and that member states are ambitious in meeting the challenges faced by Roma communities. At Eurodiaconia, we were glad to participate in this event and will continue working with our members and partners to ensure a better future for Europe’s Roma.
The conference is still available to watch on ERGO’s Facebook page.