OSCE conference on Roma inclusion

The OSCE held a two-day conference on the implementation of its Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti. In her keynote speech EPP Group MEP Lívia Járóka (Fidesz) assessed the recent inclusion initiatives at the international level and identified the areas where the EU Framework for National Roma Inclusion Strategies must move forward to increase its efficiency.

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights held a two-day conference on the implementation of the 'OSCE Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti' in Vienna. In her keynote speech, MEP Lívia Járóka reminded that due the economic and social upheaval following the fall of communism in Eastern Europe had left the majority of Roma practically detached from national economies and sinking ever deeper into poverty. “Realizing that the situation was neither acceptable nor sustainable, most Member States with a significant Roma population and many concerned international organizations came up with their own ideas for solution, but the results were in all cases disappointing” – she underlined. According to Járóka, the programmes were not only inadequate for fostering social inclusion, but the accumulation of well-documented failures started gradually directing the responsibility at Roma communities themselves in the eyes of the public, regardless of the several studies showing that in some cases less than 10% of all Roma inclusion assets reached their target group.

The EPP Group MEP referred to the findings of her recent report in the European Parliament, with regard to the EU Framework for National Roma Inclusion Strategies, launched by the Hungarian EU presidency in 2011. According to Járóka, although the Framework is so far the most promising initiative for fostering Roma inclusion, the initial phase of its implementation had already revealed some significant flaws. As an example she mentioned the vague determination of responsibilities and the inadequacy of the EU's guidance and 'quality control', as well as the practice of outsourcing inclusion programmes – and thereby responsibilities – for NGOs and outsider organizations. To enhance the efficiency of the Framework, in her speech Járóka recommended moving forward in five areas.

First, national strategies must be brought closer to reality, which means allocating enough financial assets to fulfil their policy commitments, clearly specifying the division of tasks and responsibilities among stakeholders and adding outcome indicators, baselines and numerical headline targets to national strategies, as it is the case in Hungary. Second, national strategies must be brought closer to Roma, namely, Roma organizations and local NGOs must be involved in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the strategies. Third, national strategies must better target Roma, which means that the most deprived micro-regions must be targeted by integrated multi-sector development programmes that mobilize all available CSF Funds and other EU instruments. Fourth, national strategies must protect Roma, which implies that the efforts aiming to improve the socio-economic status of Roma must go hand in hand with the fight against discrimination and anti-gypsysm. Fifth, the Framework should reach Roma outside the EU as well, meaning that accession countries – with special regard to the Western Balkans – must be involved into the European level pursuit of Roma integration, through the Instrument for Pre-Accession and the Stabilisation and Association process.