The Decade of Roma Inclusion, a collaboration started in 2005 between 12 European countries, encouraged by the World Bank and the Open Society Foundations, comes to an end. But were the promises made 10 years ago by these governments to “close the gaps between Roma and the rest of society” kept?
According to a press release by the Open Society Foundations, the answer is "in short, no". " The Roma Inclusion Index shows some progress in literacy levels, completion of primary education, and access to health insurance. But all in all, the daily life of Roma remains a struggle no other ethnic group in Europe faces."
The Indexs shows that, in these 12 European countries, only one in ten Roma completes secondary school, almost half of Roma are unemployed, and more than one in three Roma still live in absolute poverty, meaning they are severely deprived of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health care, and shelter.
"One change is noticeable: when the Decade began, there was less money and more political will to deliver; today there is more money, but less political will", the press release reads.
The factors leading to the disappointing results are various, including the euro crisis, "which brought with it anger and economic anxiety" with "opportunistic politicians quickly realizing the potential of empty slogans like “Gypsy criminality,” “Roma privilege,” and “unwillingness to integrate” to gain quick and cheap votes". Also the accession of Eastern European countries to the European Union, meant paradoxically that these countries no longer felt the need to demonstrate their fulfillment of EU accession criteria on minority rights.
Italy's policy of fingerprinting Roma and placing them in apartheid-like encampments", and France's bulldozing of Roma settlements are cited among the examples of governments' hard line against Roma.
"The Decade of Roma Inclusion and the EU Framework for Roma Integration were two of the most significant international political developments for Roma in the last 10 years. Did they improve life for Roma in Europe? On the contrary—for many, life has gone from bad to worse", concludes the press release.
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