The European Union (EU) Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020 declaredly seeks to promote the integration/inclusion of Romani communities in European societies. The European Commission‘s document urges Member State governments to improve Romani persons ‘ access to employment, healthcare and housing and essential services. In this article, the author asks whether this approach has proven fruitful, or if legal and practical misconceptions inherent to the strategy and to the resulting national implementation plans have hampered the success of the – in principle – well-meant EU-attempt to formally engage in the struggle for Romani equality. To this end, the article takes into account the genesis of European Romani policy, inputs from Romani studies, the latest EU- and third-party evaluation reports of the Framework and qualitative interviews carried out with Romani representatives and experts in Austria.
INTRODUCTION: AN INTEGRATION FRAMEWORK, WHY AND FOR WHOM?
A Roma middle class has to emerge alongside a culture of equality and diversity. […] [T]he European Union could be the catalyst for contesting the institutionalised forms of suppression Roma face in today‘s Europe.
The inclusion of Roma in European societies has been discussed by scholars from various academic backgrounds, political decision-makers and within the respective societies at large for decades. Still, it took European Union (EU) institutions until 2011 to provide guidelines on Member State (MS) policies to integrate Romani communities in European societies. Have Márton Rövid‘s hopes come at least partly true in 2018? Are Romani communities moving from the margins to the centres of European societies, propelled by the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020 (hereinafter ‘ the Framework ‘)? Or do political centrifugal forces in Europe hinder the fulfilment of the promise of open societies and inclusiveness, protection of and respect for the human rights of Romani persons?
The aim of this article is to explore the impact and effectiveness of EU policies towards Romani persons, for their integration/inclusion in various areas of life and the approaches applied herein. The article analyses the effects of existing European Roma policies in the light of current evaluation reports, such as the European Commission‘s (EC‘s) mid-term review of the Framework issued in 2017, current (ongoing) legal proceedings and critical legal and Romani scholars ‘ contributions.