CM/Inf(2009)23 22 April 20091
1056 Meeting, 6 and 7 May 2009
6 Social cohesion
6.4 Thematic exchange of views “Facing the Future: Council of Europe Action in the field of Roma and Travellers”2
Information document prepared by the Directorate General of Social Cohesion
1. The Roma, who number around 12 million people in Europe, are today a mosaic of diverse groups, present in virtually all Council of Europe member states. In some of them, the percentage is close to 10% of the total population. They constitute Europe’s largest minority without a compact territory and, unlike other national minorities, do not receive any support from a kin-state. In some countries, the Roma minority is still not recognised as such even though it may have been established there for several centuries.
2. Roma are often subjected to intolerance, prejudice and discrimination and their presence in Europe has been marked by centuries of persecution, slavery, extermination and assimilation policies. Anti-Gypsyism continues to be present in modern society and an upsurge of violent acts and physical assaults on Roma is recorded in some member states. Negative images of Roma remain prevalent and seemingly tolerated by the majority society. The Roma are often viewed as “others”, and not as fully fledged citizens in their own country. Their access to education, employment, housing and health care is still unsatisfactory.
3. The Council of Europe is regarded as having been, and still being, at the forefront of international action on Roma and Travellers in Europe. At the Warsaw Summit, Heads of State and government confirmed their commitment to combating all kinds of exclusion and insecurity of the Roma Communities in Europe and to promoting their full and effective equality. Forty years after the publication of the first text referring exclusively to Roma (at that time still called « nomads »), Roma issues are therefore, more than ever, high on the Council of Europe’s agenda. Roma activities and projects carried out by the Organisation are considered to have a positive impact as conveyed in the progress review report of Council of Europe Programme of Activities for 2008 (CM/Inf(2009)12).
4. The work of the Council of Europe concerning Roma and Travellers is inspired by three priorities which the Organisation has set up in trying to ensure social cohesion in European societies:
- the protection of human rights and minorities;
- the fight against racism and intolerance;
- the fight against social exclusion.
II. Orientations for the debate
1. What are the Council of Europe’s role, policy and achievements in improving the situation of Roma and Travellers?
5. For a long time now the Council of Europe has been working to improve the situation of the Roma and Travellers, playing a pioneering role in this regard. The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly was the first body to deal with this issue, as early as 1969 and has continued to draw the attention of the Committee of Ministers to the situation of the Roma on many occasions.
6. In 1975, the Committee of Ministers adopted its Resolution (75) 13 containing recommendations on the social situation of nomads in Europe. In 1981, the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (the precursor of today’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe ) also dealt with this question (see Resolution 125 (1981) on the role and responsibility of local and regional authorities in regard to the cultural and social problems of populations of nomadic origin, followed by other Congress resolutions in 1993, 1995 and 1997).
7. Through the work of the Committee of Experts on Roma and Travellers (MG-S-ROM), which was set up in 1995 (at that time called “Group of Specialists on Roma/Gypsies”), the Committee of Ministers has subsequently adopted specific thematic recommendations in such fields as education, employment, movement and encampment, housing, health and, more recently, policies towards the Roma and Travellers.
8. The MG-S-ROM, which has a mixed composition of Roma and non-Roma, officials and civil society representatives, representatives of Roma NGOs and intergovernmental organisations, is open to all member states. Over the years, more and more member states have shown an interest in participating in the work of this Committee, which today counts 28 member states represented on a regular basis.
9. Apart from these standard-setting activities, the MG-S-ROM has contributed, sometimes through direct assistance, to the elaboration of national programmes in 23 member states (also called ‘Plans’ or ‘Strategies’), and to the follow-up of their implementation.
10. The MG-S-ROM prepares opinions on different issues such as the current “Draft Updated Opinion of the MG-S-ROM on the return of Roma to Kosovo3 and the Western Balkans” or that on “the housing situation of Roma and Travellers in Europe” which are to be submitted to the Committee of Ministers through the European Committee on Migration (CDMG).
11. It also conducts studies and prepares reports such as the Implementation report of Recommendation Rec(2001)17 on improving the economic and employment situation of Roma/Gypsies and Travellers in Europe or an Explanatory memorandum of Recommendation Rec(2006)10 on better access to health care for Roma and Travellers in Europe.
12. MG-S-ROM members participate in fact-finding missions, such as those to Bosnia and Herzegovina or to Kosovo, which have helped to highlight the Roma’s own interests and ensure that they are not ignored.
13. The Council of Europe was once again at the forefront when, in December 2004, it became the first international organisation to sign a partnership agreement with the European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF).
14. Generally-speaking, the Council of Europe has been very active in encouraging the participation of Roma in the decision-making process and capacity-building of national Roma NGOs, in particular youth and women organisations, in various member states. It contributed to the creation of the Forum of European Roma Young People (FERYP) and to the International Romani Women’s Network (IRWN), both members of the ERTF. The Council of Europe, through its youth and Roma activities, but also with the financial support of some governments (Finland, Norway), continues to support annual FERYP training sessions and activities, whilst it accompanies the growing empowerment of Romani women by co-organising Conferences on Romani women together with national governments (Sweden 2007, Greece 2009 and Finland 2010) and other international partners, such as the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights.
Education and Culture
15. The Council of Europe Directorate of Education and Languages (DGIV)- Division for the European Dimension of Education has also given considerable attention to the education of Roma children and has been developing since 2002 a project “Education of Roma children in Europe” with a view to assisting governments, through concrete tools, in their implementation of the Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R (2000) 4 on the education of Roma/Gypsy children in Europe and Recommendation Rec(2001)15 on history teaching in twenty-first century Europe.
16. As part of this project, the Council of Europe has designed an education pack for Roma pre-school children. This pack prepares Roma and Traveller children, who have not attended nursery school and are neither ready nor sufficiently mature for the first primary school class to start school, so that they do not fall too far behind.
17. Through the Council of Europe’s in-service training programme Pestalozzi about 40 seminars are held each year, some of them on Roma issues (use of teaching material, Roma school mediators, Roma Genocide: teaching Roma culture and history in schools, etc.).
18. In the framework of the project “Day of remembrance of the Holocaust and prevention of crimes against humanity” the Roma Genocide is always taken into consideration. The Roma testimonies are part of events devoted to teaching remembrance of the Holocaust and in various publications. The setting-up of a website devoted to Roma remembrance is done in reference to the OSCE Action Plan on Improving the situation of Roma and Sinti in the OSCE Area, in close co-operation with the OSCE/ODIHR.
19. The Directorate of Education and Languages (DGIV) has produced a Guide for Roma school mediators. This Guide contains an occupational profile, training modules for mediators and other essential practical information.
20. DGIV is also producing teaching material suitable for use by Roma and non-Roma teachers working with classes made up of both Roma and other children.
21. Two editions of the Fortnight of Roma Movies were organised by DGIV in cooperation with the Cinéma Odyssée in Strasbourg, France in 2007 and 2008 with the financial support of the Finnish government.
22. Roma education issues remain a priority for many governments. In April 2008, the Slovak government under the Slovak chairmanship of the Council of Europe organised a European Conference “Tools for a successful integration of Roma children and youth into the school system”. On 25-26 May 2009 in Brdo, the Slovenian government under the Slovenian chairmanship of the Council of Europe will organise the Closing Conference of the Council of Europe project “Education of Roma children in Europe”.
23. The Slovenian authorities will also host the launching event of the Council of Europe Roma Cultural Route Programme on 7-8 October 2009. The objective of the Route of Roma Culture and Heritage is to increase the knowledge of people in Europe about Roma history, culture, values and lifestyle, to encourage the contribution of Roma to Europe’s cultural life and diversity.
24. The Language Policy Division of DGIV has conducted a medium term project that aims to elaborate a common framework of reference for the development of Romani language curricula, drawing as far as possible on those used in member states and adapting to this effect the structure of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) to the specific situation of Romani language use in society and its place in education systems. The work has benefited from a voluntary contribution from Finland. The curriculum framework for Romani is available in Romani, English and French.
25. Education of Roma children and adults is likely to remain a concern for this Organisation. At its last meeting, in March 2009, the Steering Committee on Education (CD-ED) discussed a new draft Recommendation on the Education of Roma and Travellers in Europe, which already received comments from the MG-S-ROM in 2007. However, having in mind that other international organisations, such as the OSCE-ODIHR, are putting the accent on pre-school and primary education, the Council of Europe might in the future pay attention to secondary and higher education where Roma and Travellers are present in a too limited number.
* * *
26. The past ten years have seen some positive developments in member states as far as policies are concerned. In many countries governments have adopted strategies or action plans and taken affirmative action towards the Roma (desegregation policies, legalisation and rehabilitation of Romani settlements, introduction of Roma school and health mediators, scholarships and quotas in universities, reserved seats in parliaments, free legal aid, organisation of job fairs for Roma, protection and teaching of the Romani language, etc.).
27. In Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” these programmes have been reinforced by national Decade Action Plans in the framework of the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015 launched by the World Bank and the Open Society Institute (OSI). Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Spain have recently joined the Roma Decade, whilst Slovenia attends its meetings as an observer. The Council of Europe, which has the status of international partner in the meetings of the International Steering Committee of the Roma Decade, has also contributed to this process by organising training sessions for officials and Roma representatives in improving the planning and monitoring of national programmes and workshops, such as the one on housing (together with the Council of Europe Development Bank) in 2004 and on Anti-Discrimination in 2008 under the Hungarian presidency of the Roma Decade.
28. However, these national strategies have, so far, not been very effective as their implementation in the majority of member states remains sporadic and appear to be hampered by resistance at the local level. Local authorities often seem to lack genuine political will and hesitate to implement the national programmes for fear of creating a pull-factor and because the majority population is very often intolerant towards the Roma. Too little focus on combating prejudices and stereotypes (which are the breeding ground for anti-Gypsyism) and a lack of communication for describing the national policies are among the main reasons for the rejection of these policies by most people.
Note 29. In that respect the MG-S-ROM and the Congress have envisaged closer co-operation in the future. Following a joint meeting held in March 2009, the Congress agreed to appoint a contact person for Roma and Travellers issues who will participate in future MG-S-ROM meetings. Both bodies will further discuss the possible creation of a network of municipalities having Roma and Traveller populations, which would help implement one of the recommendations of the Congress [see item 7. ii of Resolution 16(1995) of the Congress on “Towards a Tolerant Europe: the contribution of the Roma (Gypsies)”].
Note 30. The Congress has also actively contributed to the Dosta! campaign (see below) by giving awards to municipalities that have developed policies and projects for the long-term integration of their Roma populations.
2. What are the challenges and new priority areas in the field of protection of Roma and Travellers?
To effectively address and fight anti-Gypsyism
31. Anti-Gypsyism has been recognised as a specific form of racism (see the Conclusions of the Joint OSCE/Council of Europe/EUMC Conference on the implementation of policies/action plans for Roma, Sinti and Travellers and measures against the anti-Gypsyism phenomenon in Europe organised in Warsaw, Poland, in October 2005). “Anti-Gypsyism” has been accepted as the third pillar – together with antisemitism and islamophobia - of the Council of Europe campaign against discrimination “Speak out against discrimination”.
32. Anti-Gypsyism is detected in all opinion polls in Europe, without any exception whatsoever. A negative image of the Roma persists in society, perpetuated by prejudices and stereotypes. Anti-Roma feelings can be so deeply rooted that discrimination against the Roma in areas such as employment, education, housing or access to public premises appears to be generally tolerated and not considered illegal. There appears to be a feeling of impunity for certain perpetrators of violent attacks against Roma. Denial of access to basic rights as well as media and political discourse invoking intolerance and even hatred towards the Roma remain common practice.
33. In order to raise awareness of the negative impact of prejudices and stereotypes and of the contribution of Roma to the European culture and their right to be treated as equal citizens, the Council of Europe, together with the European Commission, launched an awareness-raising campaign named “Dosta!” (meaning Enough! in Romani) “Go beyond prejudice, discover the Roma!”. Initially launched in five countries of South East Europe (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”), the Council of Europe opened the campaign to all member states in 2008. So far, seven additional member States officially joined the campaign: Croatia, Italy, Latvia, Moldova, Romania, Slovenia and Ukraine.
34. Following a request by the MG-S-ROM, ECRI set up in 2009 a working group whose task is to analyse the third round country-by-country monitoring reports on the situation of Roma with a view to drafting general conclusions and possibly adopting a General Policy Recommendation on Anti-Gypsyism.
To facilitate litigation
35. Recent years have seen an increase in litigation, both at national and international levels, in cases involving discrimination against Roma. Although each case is an indication of the persistence of anti-Roma behaviours, the increase in the number of cases brought before the national courts and before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) reflects the Roma’s enhanced awareness of their rights. The Council of Europe Roma and Travellers Division and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) have been organising training sessions since 1996 to familiarise persons involved in legal assistance to Roma and Travellers communities with the relevant conventional mechanisms of the Council of Europe, focusing in particular on the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the functioning of the ECtHR. During the last thirteen years, more than 200 lawyers defending the Roma have been trained. While continuing this co-operation with the ECtHR and ERRC, the Roma and Travellers Division has initiated similar training sessions at national level (France and Russia in 2008) and has also organised two training sessions for lawyers and Roma and Traveller NGOs, including the European Roma and Travellers Forum, on the collective complaints mechanism of the Revised European Social Charter.
To effectively monitor and evaluate the implementation of national strategies for Roma and/or Travellers
36. Over the last few years various actors involved in Roma policies have stressed that the lack of evaluation and monitoring of national strategies for Roma diminishes their impact considerably. The results of a strategy should be measurable, through the inclusion of indicators and mechanisms of compulsory and participative monitoring, to identify gaps and obstacles to any policy implementation. It would also allow their assessment by the international community, such as the EU Accession reporting mechanism, the monitoring mechanisms of the Council of Europe (ECRI, Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities) or the Decade for Roma Inclusion (RomaDecadeWatch).
37. Regular evaluation will provide quality data regarding the effectiveness of the action plan and can, as a side effect, lead to a more efficient use of financial and human resources.
38. The joint programmes between the Council of Europe and the European Commission in South East Europe (2000-2006) and the current one focusing on Moldova and Ukraine entitled “Moldova and Ukraine: Enhancing the domestic capacity to devise, implement, monitor and communicate on the national action plans for Roma (with focus on education and health) and countering negative stereotyping faced by Roma” have dealt particularly with monitoring issues, including training on participative monitoring and evaluation for civil servants and Roma leaders involved in the monitoring process of the national strategies for Roma.
To progressively switch from targeting policies for Roma to mainstreaming policies
39. Comprehensive targeted strategies adopted and implemented in various member states for the last ten years are a first step in ensuring the involvement of all stakeholders. These actions should however be accompanied by a clear goal of mainstreaming these strategies to obtain long-term results.
40. “Roma problems” are in fact problems of society and require a holistic approach. Most problems facing Roma and Travellers in different areas of life are closely interconnected. The Council of Europe, in particular through its Committee of Experts on Roma and Travellers, will therefore continue to encourage member states to adopt national programmes for Roma and Sinti where they are lacking, whilst promoting a shift to mainstreaming policies where desirable.
To ensure Roma and Travellers participation in the political process
41. The Roma Congress which took place from 7 to 12 April 1971 was the very first time that the Roma in Europe decided to take action themselves with a view to putting an end to humiliations, persecution and marginalisation. Since then, Roma NGOs are becoming increasingly involved in the elaboration, implementation and evaluation of national strategies. It is a difficult process but without the Roma’s full participation, policies or projects concerning them are deemed to fail or give unsatisfactory results. This has been recalled on several occasions by various Council of Europe bodies, including the Parliamentary Assembly, the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, the Committee of Experts on questions relating to national minorities (DH-MIN) and the Commissioner for Human Rights. The lack of participation and representation of Roma was also a matter of concern identified at the Conference on Roma organised by the Spanish authorities in Seville on 24-25 March 2009 in the context of their Council of Europe Chairmanship. The Council of Europe will continue to work with governments and Roma NGOs in order to ensure the effective participation of the latter in policies affecting them. To that effect, the MG-S-ROM is currently preparing an overview of forms of participation and representation of Roma and Travellers in decision-making processes, and has started discussing the possibility to adopt an opinion on this issue in the near future.
To address Roma housing and forced evictions
42. Despite the adoption by the Committee of Ministers of Recommendation Rec(2005)4 on improving the housing conditions of Roma and Travellers in Europe, much remains to be done in this field. Decisions regarding violations of housing rights of Roma by the European Committee of Social Rights are clear indicators in this respect.
43. The Commissioner for Human Rights has recently alerted member states about the growing number of evictions of Roma and Travellers taking place in Europe and the need to find long-term solutions for Roma and Travellers’ housing problems to ensure proper integration of these populations. The MG-S-ROM is working on an opinion on the housing situation of Roma and Travellers.
44. The Council of Europe, in particular the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights and the Roma and Travellers Division, are consulted as regards the research project of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency on Roma housing in EU member states.
To address Roma migration and freedom of movement
45. The Council of Europe, in particular the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights but also DGIII, is engaged in a joint action on Roma migration and freedom of movement, which also involves the EU Fundamental Rights Agency and the OSCE-ODIHR. A Final Conference of this Joint Action will take place in Vienna on 5-6 November 2009.
46. In 2008 the MG-S-ROM asked a consultant to write a report on the situation and challenges of Romanian Roma migrants in Nantes Metropole, France. This report was used as background information to the above-mentioned joint action. The MG-S-ROM was also tasked by the CDMG to submit project proposals related to Roma migrants.
To address the forced return of Roma to Kosovo and to South East Europe
47. The Council of Europe continues to pay particular attention to the situation of Kosovar Roma in Europe, and generally-speaking to Roma asylum seekers, refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) of Roma origin. The MG-S-ROM, which already adopted an opinion on this topic in 2004, discussed a revised new opinion at its last meeting in Seville, Spain, on 26-27 March 2009. The European Roma and Travellers Forum took an active part in that discussion. This revised opinion will be submitted to the Committee of Ministers by the CDMG. This Opinion reflects some of the Conclusions of the Conference on Durable Solutions for Roma refugees, returnees and IDPs co-organised by DGIII, the Parliamentary Assembly and Serbian authorities in the Serbian Parliament in October 2007 under the Serbian chairmanship of the Council of Europe.
48. The Roma and Travellers Division and the UNHCR co-organise every year under their joint programme of co-operation workshops or conferences on issues related to Roma asylum seekers, refugees, returnees, or IDPs, e.g. their access to personal documentation which will be the topic of a Regional Joint Conference in 2009.
To strengthen co-operation between all stakeholders
49. There is a need to develop and strengthen co-operation, both internally and externally, on issues concerning Roma in order to maximise the use of scarce resources, bring together the expertise of the different agencies and avoid overlapping. The Council of Europe is particularly keen on reinforcing the already existing co-operation between the international organisations/institutions active on Roma issues, and already has fourteen years of experience of internal coordination.
50. Indeed, in 1994, a Co-ordinator for Council of Europe activities on the Roma/Gypsies was appointed by the Secretary General. The Coordinator is responsible for:
- co-ordinating the Council of Europe’s activities with regard to Roma and Travellers;
- ensuring co-operation with other international bodies working on Roma and Travellers issues;
- liaising in particular with the OSCE-ODIHR and European Union institutions;
- establishing relations with Roma associations;
- advising the Secretary General on policies and problems concerning Roma and Travellers.
51. The Coordinator organised until recently twice-yearly interdepartmental meetings to address topical issues relating to Roma and Travellers and discuss the priorities of all sectors concerned. Since last year, and with a view to focus on Roma rights from the human rights perspective, these regular internal coordination meetings have been taken over by the Commissioner for Human Rights, in close cooperation with the Coordinator.
52. The Coordinator ensures external coordination by organising the regular meetings of the Informal Contact Group (ICG) of international organisations/institutions involved in Romani affairs, which includes the Council of Europe, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), the European Commission, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency , the European Parliament, the UNDP, the UNHCR and the World Bank. This Informal Contact Group meets under each EU Council presidency to exchange information and co-ordinate activities.
53. In The Hague in November 2008, the Government of the Netherlands invited all international organisations/institutions concerned to reply to a questionnaire on coordination on Roma and to discuss the future work and functioning of the ICG. The recommendations, which were endorsed by the ICG in December 2008 under the French EU Council presidency, included the following:
- the ICG should act as a platform for exchange of views and information, especially on priorities and projects and allow for coordination of policies and strategy. To this end, it is recommended that the trio presidency of the European Union be simultaneously associated to the organisation of future meetings;
- in order to prevent duplication, the organisations/institutions concerned should use the meetings of the ICG to present their draft Programme of Activities;
- the meetings of the ICG should best be organised at the beginning of an EU-Presidency in order to obtain maximum results during that semester;
- the regular meetings of the ICG should be dedicated to a general exchange of views, whilst enabling a more thematic discussion;
- the organisations/institutions concerned should post their major Roma-related events and initiatives on a shared electronic Calendar [handled by the Roma and Travellers Division of the Council of Europe];
- the organisations/institutions, members of the ICG, will work to encourage their country offices to improve mutual cooperation on Roma-related projects.
III. Co-operation with other international organisations
§ European Commission
54. The co-operation in the field of Roma between the European Commission and the Council of Europe is ensured through regular contacts between the two institutions. Various departments of the European Commission attend meetings of the Informal Contact Group.
55. In August 2008, the Council of Europe was consulted for a background paper on “the situation of Roma in the EU: barriers and solutions for integration” prepared for President Barroso.
56. The Council of Europe attended the first EU Roma Summit on Roma organised by the European Commission in Brussels on 16 September 2008. In February 2009, the Council of Europe Roma and Travellers Division was invited by the Czech EU Council presidency to discuss a possible future EU Roma Platform. A similar invitation was received for the follow-up meeting scheduled in Prague on 24 April 2009.
57. Since 2000 the Council of Europe Roma and Travellers Division implements joint European Commission (EIDHR) and Council of Europe programmes on Roma.
58. The third joint Council of Europe/European Commission (CoE/EC ) Project “Equal Rights and Treatment for Roma in South East Europe” ended in March 2008. It aimed at assisting the development of participative monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, as well as at combating prejudices and stereotypes for improving the social image of Roma in South East Europe (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and « the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia ») via an awareness-raising campaign for combating prejudices towards Roma called Dosta! (www.dosta.org).
59. The fourth joint CoE/EC Project “Moldova and Ukraine: Enhancing the domestic capacity to devise, implement, monitor and communicate on the national action plans for Roma (with focus on education and health) and countering negative stereotyping faced by Roma people” was initiated in January 2008 and will last until June 2009.
60. This joint programme aims at:
- providing training for a better planning, implementation, and participatory monitoring of the Action Plan for Roma in Moldova, both at national and local levels;
- empowering Roma communities in Moldova, women and youth in particular, by promoting their active participation in the implementation of national action plans, including through concrete actions such as promoting institutionalisation of Roma school assistants, and socio-sanitary mediators;
- promoting both in Ukraine and Moldova a better image of Roma through the Dosta! awareness-raising campaign;
- producing an assessment report of the situation of Roma in Ukraine with a view to developing a possible future joint CoE/EU programme on Roma in Ukraine, which would fit into the Council of Europe Programme of Assistance with Ukraine.
§ European Parliament
61. In 2008 the Council of Europe attended several meetings organised by various political groups of the European Parliament, namely a PSE Conference “Towards a European Roma Strategy – from commitment to results” (Brussels, 6 March) and an EPP-ED-CET European Roma Round table (Budapest, 12 July).
62. The Council of Europe also participated in the meeting on the EP Resolution on a Strategy on the Roma that was conveyed in Strasbourg on 20 February by both the President of the European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF), Mr. Rudko Kawczynski, and the MEP Viktoria Mohacsi.
§ EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA)
63. 2008 represented a transitional year in terms of cooperation with FRA due to the change of status of the latter. The Council of Europe participated in two expert coordination meetings organised by FRA: one concerning a research on housing conditions of Roma (Vienna, 13 June) and another to discuss with relevant partners its future strategy of its work on Roma (Vienna, 9 July).
64. The Council of Europe and the FRA are involved, together with the OSCE-OHDIR, in a joint action on Roma migration and freedom of movement. A Final Conference of this Joint Action will take place in Vienna on 5-6 November 2009.
65. The Roma and Travellers Division expects future co-operation with FRA in three areas, namely gender (follow up of the Romani Women’s Conference jointly organised by the Council of Europe, FRA and the Swedish government in Stockholm in December 2007), training sessions (training of Roma health mediators and training of lawyers defending Roma) and promotion of the Dosta! campaign in EU member states. FRA attends MG-S-ROM meetings and actively contributes to recommendations drafted by this Committee.
§ European Economic and Social Committee
66. The Council of Europe has contributed through several consultations to the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) opinion on how to maximise the impact and effectiveness of all relevant instruments in order to fight discrimination and promote the integration of minorities, notably Roma.
67. IOM was recently granted observer status in MG-S-ROM meetings. In January 2008, the Council of Europe Roma and Travellers Division attended an International Romani Conference on Social Co-operatives as an example of promoting entrepreneurship among Roma communities organised by IOM in Cracow, Poland.
68. OSCE-ODIHR attends and actively contributes to MG-S-ROM meetings, as well as to the Informal Contact Group of international organisations. The Head of the Roma and Travellers Division visited the OSCE-ODIHR in January 2008 to exchange information about the planned activities and coordinate actions as much as possible. Issues of common interest are the following: early education of Roma children, remembrance of Holocaust, anti-trafficking, Roma refugees, IDPs and returnees (with specific focus on Kosovar Roma), political representation and implementation of policies for Roma.
69. The Council of Europe participated in the OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Implementation Meeting organised in Vienna on 10-11 July 2008 by the OSCE-ODIHR under the Finnish OSCE chairmanship in office. The aim of this meeting was to discuss sustainable policies for Roma and Sinti integration, in particular at the local level.
70. UNDP has an observer status in MG-S-ROM meetings. Co-operation between the Council of Europe and UNDP have so far focused on defining common indicators for the monitoring of the implementation of Roma action plans. Data collected by UNDP have on some occasions been introduced in Council of Europe surveys.
71. The Council of Europe Division for the European Dimension of Education in DG4 co-organised an International Conference on Access of Roma Children to Preschool Education with UNESCO (Paris, 10-11 September 2007).
72. The Council of Europe and the UNHCR organise every year joint activities related to Roma refugees. The last activities were on Access to Civil Rights for Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians internally displaced persons in Montenegro (Budva, April 2007) and a workshop on the legal status of Roma in Croatia (Zagreb, 13 October 2008).
73. UNICEF has not yet requested observer status with MG-S-ROM. UNICEF has shown an interest in reinforcing its co-operation on Roma issues, and UNICEF-Ukraine for example is interested in contributing to the possible future Joint CoE/EU programme on Roma in Ukraine.
74. The OHCHR actively contributed to the Romani Women’s Conference jointly organised by the Council of Europe, FRA and the Swedish government in Stockholm in December 2007. The Council of Europe Co-ordinator for activities concerning Roma and Travellers attended a coordination meeting between the Council of Europe and the OHCHR of the United Nations in Geneva on 4-5 September 2008. A reinforcement of co-operation between the two organisations is expected in the future, in particular as concerns gender issues and reproductive rights.
§ World Bank and Open Society Institute (OSI)
75. Both the World Bank and OSI have observer status with MG-S-ROM. Their participation, as well as the fact that several MG-S-ROM members are also Roma Decade official interlocutors, contribute to a certain degree of coordination between the intergovernmental work of the Council of Europe and the Roma Decade initiative.
List of main Roma-related texts of the Council of Europe
Texts adopted by the Committee of Ministers
Recommendation No. R(83)1 on stateless nomads and nomads of undetermined nationality;
Recommendation No. R(2000)4 on the education of Roma/Gypsy children in Europe;
Recommendation Rec(2001)17 on improving the economic and employment situation of Roma/Gypsies and Travellers;
Recommendation Rec(2004)14 on the movement and encampment of Travellers in Europe;
Recommendation Rec(2005)4 on improving the housing conditions of Roma and Travellers in Europe;
Recommendation Rec(2006)10 on better access to health care for Roma and Travellers in Europe;
Recommendation Rec(2008)5 on policies for Roma and/or Travellers in Europe.
Resolution No. (75) 13 on the social situation of nomads in Europe.
CM(2004)179 2 November 2004 regarding the Committee of Ministers’ decision to sign a partnership agreement with the European Roma and Travellers Forum.
Texts adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly
Recommendation 563 (1969) on the situation of Gypsies and other travellers in Europe;
Recommendation No. 1203 on Gypsies en Europe;
Recommendation No. 1557 on the legal situation of Roma in Europe.
Introductory memorandum on the situation of Roma in Europe and relevant activities of the Council of Europe
by Rapporteur József Berényi (Slovak Republic, EPP/CD) for the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.
Texts adopted by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe
Resolution 125(1981) on the role and responsibility of local and regional authorities in regard to the cultural and social problems of populations of nomadic origin;
Resolution 249(1993) on Gypsies in Europe: the role and responsibility of local and regional authorities;
Resolutions 11 and 16(1995) of the CLRAE on “Towards a Tolerant Europe: the contribution of the Roma (Gypsies)”;
Resolution 44(1997) on “Towards a Tolerant Europe: the contribution of Roma”.
ECRI General Policy Recommendation on combating racism and intolerance against Roma/Gypsies (1998).
Note 1 This document has been classified restricted until examination by the Committee of Ministers.
Note 2 The term “Roma and Travellers” used in Council of Europe documents refers to Roma, Sinti, Kale, Travellers, and related groups in Europe, and aims to cover the wide diversity of groups concerned, including groups which identify themselves as Gypsies.
Note 3 All reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.