CM/Cong(2012)Rec315 final 16 March 2012
“The situation of Roma in Europe: a challenge for local and regional authorities”
Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe Recommendation 315 (2011)
(Reply adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 14 March 2012 at the 1137th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)
1. The Committee of Ministers has given careful consideration to Recommendation 315 (2011) on “The situation of Roma in Europe: a challenge for local and regional authorities”, which it has brought to the attention of the governments of member States and sent to relevant intergovernmental committees.1
2. The Committee of Ministers shares the overall concern expressed by the Congress regarding the situation of Roma in Europe, a concern demonstrated through the organisation of the high-level meeting on Roma in October 2010, and the resulting “Strasbourg Declaration”. As the Congress is aware, the Strasbourg Declaration includes guiding principles and priorities on a) non-discrimination, citizenship, women's and children’s rights; b) social inclusion including education, housing and healthcare and c) empowerment and better access to justice with regard to Roma. It led to the creation of a new European training programme for Roma mediators focusing on effective communication at local level between Roma communities and public institutions and improving access to schools, health and jobs. This programme is run on the basis of a partnership agreement between the Council of Europe and the European Union and will continue in 2012-2013. In addition, it would recall that a number of “Strasbourg Initiatives” were formulated by the Secretary General for concrete actions to be implemented by national governments, local and regional authorities. The aim of these developments is to suggest possible lines of action with a view to advancing on many of the issues raised by the Congress in its recommendation.
3. Whilst welcoming the substantial efforts underway subsequent to these initiatives, the Committee of Ministers remains vigilant and concerned by the situation of Roma, a position reiterated most recently in its Declaration on the rise of anti-Gypsyism and racist violence against Roma, adopted on 1 February 2012.
4. The Committee of Ministers agrees with the general spirit of the Congress recommendation. However, it would point out that in the light of the fact that member States have different positions with regard to the recognition of Roma as a national minority, it is unable to endorse each and every specific element of the recommendation. It would however invite individual member States to give due consideration to the various suggestions contained therein.
5. The Committee of Ministers warmly welcomes the active involvement of the Congress regarding the situation of Roma and concurs with the Congress concerning the crucial role of regional and local authorities in supporting Roma inclusion. In this respect, the Committee of Ministers would agree, in reference to paragraphs 6.b and 6.c, that there is a need to ensure, when developing national strategies for Roma inclusion, that local and regional authorities should have the capacity to effectively implement policies at their level, as well as consultation mechanisms with Roma representatives. It considers that work in this area could also include training and awareness-raising efforts at the local level on addressing prejudice and stereotypes towards Roma, e.g. by making use of the Council of Europe Dosta! Campaign.
6. The Committee of Ministers would also recall, particularly in relation to 6.e., 6.h. and 6.i., the relevance of the rights laid down in the European Social Charter, in particular relating to housing, health, education, employment, social and legal protection and non-discrimination.
7. The Committee of Ministers welcomes in particular the proposal to establish a European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion and would call on member States to implement Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)5 on policies for Roma and/or Travellers in Europe and to draw on ECRI General Policy Recommendation No. 13 on combating anti-Gypsyism and discrimination against Roma, which is also referred to in its above-mentioned declaration. The Committee of Ministers would also point out, in response to paragraph 6.f., that Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)52 already recommends that “States should involve regional and local authorities from the earliest stages of developing the strategy, and ensure their commitment to its effective implementation. Regional and local authorities should develop action plans to implement national strategies at local and regional level”.
8. Finally, the Committee of Ministers has noted with interest the recommendation made by the Congress in paragraph 8 to set up a European programme for capacity building at local and regional level that would complement the Roma mediators training programme (ROMED). It considers that such an initiative could possibly be combined with the setting-up of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion. In that context, it would encourage the relevant sectors of the Council of Europe to jointly explore, in co-operation with the European Union and other possible partners, the practical and financial feasibility of implementing that recommendation.
1 The European Committee for Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR), the Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Roma (CAHROM) and the Governmental Committee of the European Social Charter and the European Code of Social Security.
2 See paragraph V.3.ii of the Appendix to Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)5.