The publication is the fruit of joint collaboration between the Council of Europe and UNESCO, which are committed to supporting the well-being and flourishing of Roma children and their right to education and development from birth. It is a concrete follow-up to the recommendations arising from an expert meeting on “Toward quality education for Roma children: transition from early childhood to primary education” organised in 2007 by the two bodies. It is hoped that the Guidelines will incite greater attention to, and above all, appropriate actions for, young Roma children by providing clear policy and programmatic pointers to conceiving an inclusive early childhood care and education system.
The 2016 Council of the European Union conclusions state firmly that the EU Member States and the Council have to continue cooperation in accordance with the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS). Member States are asked to: accelerate the implementation of the NRIS; ensure equal access to employment and education; ensure that the situation of Romani children is addressed in mainstream policies or in targeted measures; increase the efforts to eliminate all forms of segregation in education by promoting equal access to inclusive as well as quality early childhood education and care; eliminate the segregation of Roma children in special schools. It is urged to the European Commission to provide continuous support, guidance and funding to national, regional and local authorities, Roma civil society and other relevant actors actively engaged in Roma integration.
This midterm review takes stock of the progress since the launch of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS) in 2011. The EU Framework aims to close the gap between Roma and non-Roma in four key areas: education, employment, healthcare and housing. This review is based on data on how the situation of Roma has changed, and inputs from national authorities, civil society and other partners. The midterm review claims that education is the main area in which the situation of Roma improved and it is also the most prominent area in EU Member States’ policy mix for Roma inclusion. The participation rates of Romani children in early childhood education and care have increased. Early school-leaving, segregation in education and poverty risk among Roma remain high, the report states.
The EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies is calling on EU Member States to prepare or revise National Roma Integration Strategies in order to address more effectively the challenges of Roma inclusion and to tangibly improve the situation by the end of 2020. The endorsement of the Framework by EU heads of states and governments indicated that Roma inclusion is becoming an important priority for all Member States, despite the economic and financial crisis. The aim of the EU Framework is to help the Member States to make a tangible difference to Roma people’s lives by bringing change in the approach to their inclusion. Member States need to develop and implement an integrated and sustainable approach that combines efforts across different areas, including education, employment, health, and housing.
The Council of the European Union calls the Member States and the Commission to continue the commitment for Roma inclusion and invites them both to ensure the effective use of EU funds for the social and economic inclusion of Roma. It stresses the fact that despite efforts many Roma still face deep poverty, profound social exclusion, barriers in exercising fundamental rights, and discrimination. Furthermore, it underlines that active involvement and participation of Roma themselves is essential for improving the situation of Roma community. The Commission is requested to continue the work on Roma Taskforce and to address EU funds in efforts to advance Roma inclusion. The EU Member States are requested to appropriately monitor and evaluate the impact of the Roma inclusion strategies, to develop their national Roma inclusion strategies within broader social inclusion policies (social and economic measures) and to promote the active involvement of Roma civil society. The Council invites to a synergic cooperation among Commission, the Member States and relevant stakeholders.