The Council of the EU adopted a recommendation on Roma equality, inclusion and participation on March 2. 2021.
What’s in for Roma youth? Position of Phiren Amenca
The long awaited by all recommendations for Roma equality, inclusion and participation were made known to public in the evening of 12 March 2021. They describe in detail the commitments agreed by Member States to pursue in the process of Roma inclusion by 2030. Compared to previous recommendations for Roma inclusion of the Council of the EU, the current document is extremely improved. For the first time it is taken an intersectional approach acknowledging the multiple vulnerability of Roma youth, women, LGBT+, elderly, people with disabilities, third country nationals or stateless and EU mobile Roma. Before we tell you more about what’s in for Roma youth, here are some of the MAIN POINTS of the Recommendation in brief:
Member States should adopt national Roma strategic frameworks and communicate them to the European Commission, preferably by September 2021.
These commitments should be following seven objectives with prescribed measures. There are four sectoral objectives: education, employment, housing and health. There are set of measures under each of the objectives, which the states are invited to choose from. Besides the four sectoral objectives, there are also three horizontal objectives: equality, inclusion and participation. Equality measures are considered to be those fighting antigypsyism and discrimination, promoting Roma language, culture and history including the memory of the Roma Holocaust and a few others. As inclusion measures are considered mostly those to fight poverty such as adequate social protection schemes. And as participation measures, among others, are mentioned those to support active citizenship by promoting social, economic, political, cultural and civic participation (!!!particularly for Roma women and young people!!!)
Member States should provide national Roma contact points with adequate and necessary resources, staff capacity and institutional authority, and empower them, so that they can effectively coordinate and monitor national policies for Roma equality, inclusion and participation, including outreach at local level.
The reporting from the Member States towards the European Commission is going to happen every two years using the online reporting tool. The Member States are invited to choose indicators from the set of indicators provided by the Fundamental Rights Agency to measure their success. Most importantly the national reports on Roma inclusion should be publicly disclosed by member states (something which until this moment was missing).
WHAT’S IN FOR ROMA YOUTH?
‘Young Roma’ are mentioned eleven times throughout the updated Council Recommendations on Roma! These mentions are predominantly within the context of four objectives:
Young Roma in Horizontal Objective ‘Equality’
(15) When targeting the Roma population, it is important to acknowledge the specific needs or vulnerabilities of certain groups, including Roma women, young Roma, Roma children, LGBTI Roma, elderly Roma, Roma persons with disabilities, those who are third country nationals or stateless, and EU mobile Roma (p.12)
(c) measures to fight multiple and structural discrimination against Roma and, in particular, against Roma women, young Roma, Roma children, LGBTI Roma, elderly Roma, Roma with disabilities, stateless Roma and EU mobile Roma (p.20)
Young Roma in Horizontal Objective ‘Inclusion’
(e) measures to support financial literacy for young adults and families, including better decision-making and planning skills as part of empowerment and financial inclusion measures. (p.22
Young Roma in Horizontal Objective ‘Participation’
4. Member States should, as appropriate, step up meaningful participation by and consultation of Roma people, including women, children, young people, elderly people, and persons with disabilities, in order to provide effective support for Roma equality and non-discrimination. This should include measures such as the following: (a) measures to support active citizenship by promoting social, economic, political, cultural and civic participation, particularly for Roma women and young people; (p.22)
(e) measures to coordinate resources, networks and expertise across sectors to increase the involvement of young Roma people in decision-making processes and help amplify their leadership. (p.23)
Young Roma in Sectoral Objective ‘Employment’
Access to quality and sustainable employment 8. Member States should promote effective equal access for Roma, in particular young Roma, to quality and sustainable employment, including, where relevant, by means of measures such as the following: (a) measures to reach out to young Roma in order to raise their awareness of the available, preferably integrated, employment and social services, as well as to link them to those services. (b) measures to address the needs of young Roma who are unemployed and inactive Roma by tailoring individualised, holistic action plans for them, that take into account their preferences and motivation, barriers and disadvantages, and reasons for being unemployed or inactive. (p.28)
While not everywhere young Roma are mentioned some of the proposed measures are also indirectly addressing young Roma such as these measures under sectoral objective ‘Employment’:
(c) measures to support first work experience, job placements, apprenticeships and career development; (d) measures to facilitate the transition from education to employment through coaching, mentoring, vocational training, traineeships, business incubators, and dual education; (p.28)
Another important point that the Council Recommendations are making, is addressing Roma youth organizations:
24. Member States should ensure funding to support the plurality and independence of Roma and pro-Roma civil society, including Roma youth organisations, thus enabling them to report on and monitor national Roma strategic frameworks, as independent watchdog organisations, and to maintain their administrative capacity.
26. Member States should promote capacity building and leadership in Roma civil society, including youth organisations, to enable the bodies and organisations concerned to participate in all stages of the policy cycle and in public life in general. (p.38)
WHAT’S NEXT? POSITION OF PHIREN AMENCA
While the Council Recommendations express clearly the commitment of the Member States, now we do expect that national governments and national Roma contact points follow them!
Unfortunately, in many EU Member States countries the currently ongoing consultation processes around the newly developed National Roma Strategies do not involve young Roma, the process is neither transparent nor inclusive.
This is already the first barrier to measure whether these recommendations are being followed. Although the process indicators of the FRA are covering the issues of dialogue and participation, the civil society should be able to have a strong say in this through a parallel shadow monitoring.
Therefore, we insist that the Online Tool for reporting used by the National Governments becomes public and open for all, as the Recommendations require, and further it should be translated into all EU languages to ensure a policy learning.
Another weak point is that in a number of National Roma Contact Points the young Roma or Roma in general are missing, i.e., the representation of Roma is being done by non-Roma without providing opportunity for employment for young Roma professionals to contribute to the work of the National Roma Contact Points. Young Roma must be part of this process from the beginning to the end: being part of the design of national Roma strategies, their implementation, and their monitoring, because these policies up to 2030 concern the young Roma the most. We call on the National Roma Contact Points for transparency and inclusiveness towards young Roma and Roma Youth organizations in all the processes concerning Roma-related policies!
Furthermore, we call on the European Commission to implement rigorous assessment of the upcoming National Roma Strategies, with paying particular attention on whether there are ensured participation mechanisms and other measures for young Roma.
The Phiren Amenca International Network will continue to insist for better equality, inclusion and participation of young Roma at all levels and we are ready to support national governments and Roma contact points, as well as the European Commission with our expertise on Roma youth.
The full text of the Council Recommendations for Roma Equality, Inclusion and Participation up to 2030 can be found here: https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-6070-2021-INIT/en/pdf