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Euroma Network releases new report on Structural Funds and Roma inclusion [editar]

The report reviews its eight years of work and analyses how Roma inclusion is considered in the 2014-2020 programming period

24/07/2016
EURoma Technical Secretariat

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Euroma Network releases new report on Structural Funds and Roma inclusion

The European Network on Social Inclusion and Roma under the Structural Funds (EURoma Network) releases its final report of the 2007-2013 programming period ‘Promoting the Use of ESI Funds for Roma Inclusion. A glance at EURoma’s eight years of work and how Roma inclusion is considered in the 2014-2020 programming period’. The report aims to review how fourteen countries currently involved in the Network consider Roma inclusion in the Operational Programmes adopted for the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds programming period. It also provides a glance at EURoma’s trajectory, main products and overall added value and impact during its eight years of operation.

The European Network on Social Inclusion and Roma under the Structural Funds (EURoma Network) releases its final report of the 2007-2013 programming period ‘Promoting the Use of ESI Funds for Roma Inclusion. A glance at EURoma’s eight years of work and how Roma inclusion is considered in the 2014-2020 programming period’.

The report has a two-fold objective:

  • To provide a glance at EURoma’s trajectory, main products and overall added value and impact during its eight years of operation.
  • To review how fourteen countries currently involved in the Network (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden) consider Roma inclusion in the Operational Programmes adopted for the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds programming period, identifying the most relevant trends as well as the key challenges for the implementation phase that has recently started.

It is expected that the mutual learning and common reflection on the work of EURoma and on the state-of-play and crucial aspects for the implementation of the ESI Funds in the 2014-2020 programming period will contribute to achieving the most efficient use of these funds for the inclusion of vulnerable groups, including Roma, in the coming years.

The current programming period should serve to take the definite step forward in promoting a real change in the lives of the many European Roma that still today suffer from poverty, exclusion and discrimination. We should not miss the opportunity offered by the new ESI Funds Regulations, which open up a wide range of possibilities for promoting the social inclusion and non-discrimination of Roma, including, but not exclusively, within the explicit ESF Investment Priority ‘Socio-economic integration of marginalised communities such as the Roma’ (IP 9.2.). The framework for transnational cooperation and initiatives such as the EURoma Network can also largely contribute to fostering an effective use of ESI Funds for Roma inclusion.

Reviewing the eight years of work of the EURoma Network

Led by the Spanish ESF Managing Authority (Ministry of Employment and Social Security) and with the Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG) as Technical Secretariat, EURoma aims to promote the use of Structural Funds for the inclusion of the Roma population and as a result enhancing the effectiveness of policies targeting the Roma community. To this end, it gathers public bodies responsible for Structural Funds (notably ESF Managing Authorities or delegated Intermediate Bodies/Implementing Authorities) and for the policies targeting the Roma population (notably the National Roma Contact Points) from fifteen Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Slovakia and Sweden. The Network Technical Secretariat is hosted by the Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG).

Over its eight years of operation, EURoma has become a fundamental actor and a forum of reference at European level as regards the inclusion of Roma population and Structural Funds. Throughout the 2007-2013 programming period, it has worked to promote the effective implementation of the actions planned in this period and to foster advances in the planning of the 2014-2020 period. To this end, it has encouraged mutual learning and capacity building of key actors, knowledge generation and provision of support to address crucial aspects for the effective use of the funds. EURoma has been one of the most active transnational networks but also been highly valued by relevant actors for Roma inclusion and Structural Funds, including European institutions, European and international organisations and networks and civil society organisations.

Roma inclusion in the 2014-2020 programming period

It is encouraging to see that in the programming documents for the 2014-2020 ESI Funds programming period increased attention is paid to Roma inclusion, with Roma people and Roma communities targeted to a large extent and in a broad number of Operational Programmes (OPs), going beyond the ESF and in particular the specific Investment Priority 9.2. There are also plans to make progress in some of the areas that represented the biggest challenges in the 2007-2013 programming period such as the use of different funds, the combination of these funds, the incorporation of Roma inclusion at different levels or the coverage of different areas of intervention.

Now it remains to be seen how this positive framework and the different options selected by countries in terms of scope (national or regional OPs), funds (European Social Fund, European Regional Development Fund or others), thematic objectives and Investment Priorities (9.2. or others), approaches (explicit mention, no mention and territorial approaches), hierarchical importance given to actions targeting Roma (at the level of priority axes, specific objectives or actions) and fields of Intervention are translated into practice in the implementation phase.

Building upon the analysis made and the experience from the 2007-2013 programming period, the following aspects should be considered during the implementation phase:

  • The effective implementation of the actions planned in the programming documents, ensuring that they actually reach Roma. Particular attention should be paid to those actions that do not target Roma explicitly to avoid programmes disregarding them. The necessary guarantees should also be taken as regards the ‘explicit but not exclusive’ approaches, notably when there is a large number of target groups, to prevent the risk that Roma become blurred among the many other groups. To this end, it is crucial to count on strong and continuous monitoring processes.
  • The use of opportunities to promote Roma inclusion beyond those foreseen in the programming documents. There is still much scope to promote Roma inclusion in the implementation phase even if the adopted programming documents do not feature specific measures or do not explicitly mention Roma (e.g. mentioning Roma as potential targets of the calls for proposals or in the priorities of the projects, establishing indicators related to Roma as final beneficiaries…). This could also apply to the consideration of the gender dimension in the programmes. As far as the funds are concerned, ESF and ERDF but also other funding sources and instruments -including the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Territorial Cooperation programmes offer many opportunities.
  • The maximisation of the instruments available within the new Regulations for a more efficient use of ESI Funds. Among them the combined use of different funds, whether within the same OP or between OPs with different funds, or the integrated and multi-dimensional approaches, both in terms of fields of interventions and funds. While these approaches are of particular relevance in areas with relatively widespread geographical segregation and marginalisation, or where Roma are overrepresented, it is important to go further and apply them in all types of interventions targeting Roma, emphasising the links between the different fields and funds. In general, it seems important to widen the fields of interventions beyond the four key fields identified by the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS) (employment, education, health and housing) including also other areas of relevance, particularly non-discrimination. In this sense, further efforts are deemed necessary in those areas that up to now received less attention, such as healthcare.
  • The alignment, complementarity and coordination between the national, regional and local levels, including between the OPs acting at the different levels and the financial and policy instruments (i.e. OPs and relevant policies on Roma inclusion at national and regional level such as the NRIS, among others).
  • The role of the National Roma Contact Points (NRCPs) in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation phases and the need to improve the coordination and alignment between the National Roma Contact Points and the Managing Authorities.
  • The promotion of a quality participation, involvement and performance of relevant stakeholders for Roma inclusion (including Roma NGOs and organisations working to promote Roma inclusion as well as Roma communities themselves) throughout the whole ESI Funds cycle (from planning, to implementation, monitoring and evaluation) in line with the European Code of Conduct on Partnership.

In order to assure the effective incorporation of Roma within ESI Funds, it is essential that all these elements are assumed not only by national Operational Programmes but also by regional ones, which should fully develop their potential in this programming period.

This report has been edited and distributed with the support of the ESF and the Fundación Bancaria "La Caixa". 

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