of the Committee of Ministers to member states
on policies for Roma and/or Travellers in Europe
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 20 February 2008
at the 1018th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)
The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 15.b of the Statute of the Council of Europe,
Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve greater unity between its members, and that this aim may be pursued, in particular, through common action in the field of human rights and social cohesion, which form core values and objectives of the Council of Europe;
Recognising that Roma and Travellers have faced, for more than five centuries, widespread and enduring discrimination, rejection and marginalisation all over Europe and in all areas of life; and were targeted victims of the Holocaust; and that forced displacement, discrimination and exclusion from participation in social life have resulted in poverty and disadvantage for many Roma and Traveller communities and individuals across Europe;
Recognising the existence of anti-Gypsyism as a specific form of racism and intolerance, leading to hostile acts ranging from exclusion to violence against Roma and/or Traveller communities;
Recognising the role of the media and education in the persistence of anti-Roma prejudices and their potential to help overcome them;
Aware that discrimination and social exclusion can be overcome most effectively by comprehensive, coherent and proactive policies targeting both the Roma and the majority, which ensure integration and participation of Roma and Travellers in the societies in which they live and respect for their identity;
Considering that all human rights are indivisible, interdependent and interrelated and that economic and social rights are human rights, and should be supported by concrete community and governmental efforts to ensure they are equally accessible to the most deprived and disadvantaged groups and communities;
Bearing in mind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ETS No. 5) and Protocol No. 12 (ETS No. 177) and Protocol No. 14 (ETS No. 194, from the date of its entry into force) thereto, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ETS No. 148), the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (ETS No. 157), the revised European Social Charter (ETS No. 163), and the European Convention on Nationality (ETS No. 166);
Taking into account Recommendation No. R (2000) 4 of the Committee of Ministers 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 in Europe, 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;
Recalling Recommendations No. 563 (1969), 1203 (1993) and 1557 (2002) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and Resolutions No. 125 (1981), 249 (1993), 16 (1995) and 44 (1997) and Recommendation 11 (1995) of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe on the situation of Roma/Gypsies in Europe;
Bearing in mind General Policy Recommendation No. 3 on combating racism and intolerance against Roma/Gypsies, General Policy Recommendation No. 7 on national legislation to combat racism and racial discrimination and General Policy Recommendation No. 10 on combating racism and racial discrimination in and through school education of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI);
Aware of European Union Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin and the Treaty on European Union and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;
Having in mind the proposed Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia of the Council of the European Union;
Having in mind the Guiding Principles for improving the situation of the Roma adopted by the European Union (COCEN Group) at the Tampere Summit in December 1999 and the European Parliament Resolutions on the situation of Roma in the European Union, adopted on 28 April 2005, and on the situation of Roma women in the European Union, adopted on 1 June 2006;
Aware of the research, data collection and opinions of the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), and of the FRA Roma and Travellers specific reports;
Aware of the 2003 Action Plan of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for the Improvement of the Situation of the Roma and Sinti within the OSCE area;
Taking into account the objectives of the multilateral initiative “the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015” launched by nine governments of Central and South-Eastern Europe and supported by the World Bank, the Open Society Institute, the Council of Europe, the Council of Europe Development Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the OSCE and the European Commission;
Recalling that both the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Union Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 allow states to take positive action to prevent or compensate for disadvantages linked to ethnic origin or membership of a national minority, with a view to promoting full and effective equality;
Bearing in mind that the constitutional structures, legal, social and cultural traditions and the domestic allocation of responsibilities differ in Council of Europe member states, which may lead to various ways of implementing the present recommendation,
Recommends that governments of member states:
- adopt, in accordance with the principles and provisions set out in the appendix to this recommendation, a coherent, comprehensive and adequately resourced national and regional strategy with short- and long-term action plans, targets and indicators for implementing policies that address legal and/or social discrimination against Roma and/or Travellers and enforce the principle of equality;
- monitor and publish regular evaluation reports on the state of the implementation and impact of strategies and policies to improve the situation of Roma and/or Travellers;
- bring this recommendation to the attention of and ensure the support of the relevant national and local or regional, self-governing public bodies, Roma and/or Traveller communities and the broader population in their respective countries through the appropriate channels, including the media.
Appendix to Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)5
on policies for Roma and/or Travellers in Europe
The term ‘Roma and/or Travellers’ used in the present text 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.
A ‘policy’ is an overall plan embracing general goals and procedures and intended to guide and determine present and future decisions, including legislation and programming.
A ‘strategy’ is a detailed plan based on long-term objectives for achieving positive results in situations, such as Roma employment, or a skill in planning for such situations.
A ‘programme’ is a series of projects with a common overall objective.
A ‘project’ is a series of activities with set objectives, designed to produce a specific outcome within a limited time frame.
The ‘project purpose’ is the central objective of the project. The purpose should address the core problem, and be defined in terms of sustainable benefits for the target group(s). There should only be one project purpose per project.
An ‘objective’ is the description of the aim of a project or programme. In its generic sense it refers to activities, results, project purpose and overall objectives.
An ‘output’ is the clearly identified products emerging from activities.
‘Results’ are the products of the activities undertaken, the combination of which achieve the project purpose, namely the beginning of enjoyment of sustainable benefits for the target groups.
‘Impact/outcomes’ are the effect of the project on its wider environment, and its contribution to the broader sectoral objectives summarised in the project’s overall objectives, and on the achievement of the overarching policy objectives.
An ‘indicator’ is an observable change or event which provides evidence of change, whether this be short-term or long-term change. They can be revealing of effort and effect at all levels from outputs to objectives.
‘Milestones/benchmarks’ are a type of objectively verifiable indicator providing indications for short- and medium-term objectives (usually activities) which facilitate measurement of achievements throughout a project rather than just at the end. They also indicate times when decisions should be made or action should be finished.
‘Participation’ is the active involvement of a person or a group of people within an activity and goes beyond consultation to being a form of active, continuing and effective engagement.
‘Monitoring’ is the systematic and continuous assessment of the progress of a piece of work over time, enabling actors to verify that things are going to plan and make adjustments in a methodical way.
‘Evaluation’ is the periodic assessment of the relevance, performance, efficiency and rate of achievement of the general objective.
‘Dissemination’ is the wide diffusion of points of knowledge, products developed and project results (for example, methods, products, educational programmes, instruments/tools, models, insights and policy ideas) among relevant target groups playing a part in the mainstreaming process.
‘Mainstreaming’ is a continuous and process-oriented strategy to integrate working methods targeting particular groups or specific aspects of a situation, in regular organisational policies, aiming, in the end, at influencing policy and implementation, and generating fundamental changes. Examples: horizontally (within branches or sectors of similar organisations), vertically (within local, regional or national policy) or transnationally (within partner organisations or through bodies such as the European Commission or the Council of Europe).
‘Positive action’: “With a view to ensuring full equality in practice, the principle of equal treatment shall not prevent any member state from maintaining or adopting specific measures to prevent or compensate for disadvantages linked to racial or ethnic origin.” (EC Directive 2000/43/EC). “The law should provide that the prohibition of racial discrimination does not prevent the maintenance or adoption of temporary special measures designed either to prevent or compensate for disadvantages suffered by [Roma and/or Travellers] or to facilitate their full participation in all fields of life. These measures should not be continued once the intended objectives have been achieved.” (ECRI General Policy Recommendation No. 7 on national legislation to combat racism and racial discrimination, paragraph 5).
Under Article 1.1 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination ‘racial discrimination’, as defined in international law, is “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life”.
Article 2.2 of the Directive 2000/43/EC of the Council of the European Union refers to racial discrimination as “discrimination on the ground of race or ethnic origin”. Discrimination can take a variety of forms and may include direct and indirect forms of discrimination.
- “direct discrimination occurs when one person is treated less favourably than another is treated in a comparable situation on grounds of racial or ethnic origin”. An example of direct discrimination is a job advert, which says “no Roma people need apply”;
- “indirect discrimination occurs where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice would put persons of a racial or ethnic origin at a particular disadvantage compared with other persons, unless that provision, criterion or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary”. An example of indirect discrimination is requiring all people who apply for a certain job to sit a test in a particular language, even though that language is not necessary for the job.
A national and/or regional strategy should aim at ensuring equality and integration of Roma and/or Travellers in social, economic and political life, promoting community empowerment and capacity building, increasing awareness and understanding of Roma and/or Traveller culture and lifestyle among the rest of society, and ensuring respect for Roma and/or Traveller identity and effective protection from direct and indirect discrimination and segregation and from racism.
III. General principles
In drawing up strategies concerning Roma and/or Travellers, the following principles should be followed:
i. allow a rights-based, comprehensive, dynamic and integrated approach;
ii. recognise the diversity of Roma and/or Traveller communities and their different needs warranting diverse and flexible responses;
iii. support Roma and/or Travellers’ participation as an essential component of all stages of design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of strategies concerning them, and promote community capacity building;
iv. ensure gender and age balance of Roma and/or Traveller representation;
v. ensure effective monitoring of the implementation of the strategy with clear benchmarks and criteria for success;
vi. integrate ongoing evaluation of strategies and make it a subject for ongoing review and improvement;
vii. ensure that targeting and mainstreaming approaches are used.
IV. Legislative framework
i. All countries should adopt specific and comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation in line with international and European standards; set up anti-discrimination bodies equipped to promote equal treatment and to assist victims of discrimination; and ensure that this legislation is effectively implemented. The effectiveness of civil and administrative anti-discrimination laws could be improved by placing the burden of proof on the person against whom discrimination is alleged, including direct and indirect discrimination and harassment within the scope of the law, by supporting positive action and providing effective and proportionate sanctions and remedies.
ii. Legislation should impose a legal duty on public authorities to promote equality and non-discrimination and provide adequate resources for this to be made available.
iii. As anti-Gypsyism and violence against Roma and/or Travellers is widespread in Europe, member states that have not yet done so should make racial motivation an aggravating circumstance in prosecuting criminal offences, and ensure that such offences include racially motivated crimes against Roma and/or Travellers.
iv. These legislative provisions should be effectively implemented to ensure there is no impunity for racially motivated crimes. Victims of such crimes should be actively encouraged to report them to the police or other relevant authorities.
V. Developing the strategy
1. Establishing needs
i. The strategy’s objectives should be based on a thorough evidence-based needs assessment carried out by the authorities but which takes into account the views of a wide spectrum of Roma and/or Traveller NGOs, including women’s and youth organisations, as well as NGOs and other relevant bodies working on Roma and/or Traveller issues.
ii. The needs assessment, provided this is admissible in national law, and in accordance with existing international standards on data protection, including the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (ETS No. 108), should be carried out through, for example, household surveys gathering quantitative and qualitative data on the situation of Roma and/or Travellers, disaggregated by gender, age, and other relevant indicators.
Such data will be helpful in establishing the initial position against which progress may be measured, as well as in monitoring progress and evaluating outcomes of the strategy. If such survey data is used, a clear definition of the indicators used for monitoring shall be provided with the strategy.
The absence of data must not be used either to halt or unduly delay the preparation of any programme or strategy. This may be remedied by launching independent surveys and public consultation with relevant stakeholders.
iii. In case Roma and/or Travellers do not possess any identification papers, authorities should carry out country-wide registration programmes within a definite time frame, free of charge and with simplified procedures, making a special effort to reach categories of population that are more vulnerable due to displacement, limited access to information, literacy problems, etc. (for example, women, the elderly, persons whose mother tongue is different from the official language).
iv. In a population-wide data collection, the public authorities should respect the principles of confidentiality, informed consent and voluntary self-identification.
2. Developing a coherent and co-ordinated strategy
i. The strategy for Roma and/or Travellers should, where necessary, include a review of legislation and administrative practices, to ensure coherent and co-ordinated implementation and removal of obstacles, including gender discrimination and nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyle, to their effective implementation. Reviewing by means of research and surveys should be undertaken by relevant stakeholders and complemented by awareness-raising campaigns.
ii. The strategy should incorporate best practices already identified, knowledge gained through research, lessons learnt from substantial monitoring and evaluations of national programmes/policies for Roma and/or Travellers throughout Europe and recommendations made by the relevant international, national and local organisations.
3. Participating in policy/strategy development
i. The process or body which devises the strategy should be representative as far as possible of all relevant structures, and should work in partnership with the diverse Roma and/or Traveller communities affected by the strategy, as well as with the communities living close to Roma and/or Travellers.
The structure and composition of the body or bodies should facilitate the development of cross-sectoral policies. National and international governmental and non-governmental organisations may be consulted where appropriate and relevant.
Representation of Roma and/or Travellers should ensure gender balance and youth participation.
ii. 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.
4. Risk management
In developing the strategy, particular attention should be given to the timely identification and management of all possible risks that could threaten its proper implementation.
5. Continuous monitoring and evaluation
Continuous, independent, participative, co-ordinated and transparent monitoring and evaluation should be built into the strategy.
i. Sufficient financial resources should be allocated, wherever possible on a long-term basis, from the state budget to ensure effective implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the strategy. Hence, a strategy should be adopted only after the consent of the authorities responsible for budget policy and should contain a cost-estimate of the measures proposed.
ii. Governments should provide budgetary support for Roma and/or Travellers’ participation in developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating the strategy.
iii. Local and/or regional authorities should include specific actions aimed at improving the living conditions of Roma and/or Travellers in local and/or regional budget planning, in order to guarantee sufficient funding for the implementation.
VI. Adopting the strategy
1. Legislative framework
Where legislative and constitutional practice allows, the strategy, and/or the specific measures for its implementation, should be adopted by a legislative act or otherwise supported by legislation to guarantee its sustainability and permanence.
2. Publicising the strategy and awareness raising
i. The text of the strategy and of any implementing decrees should be made available in accessible format to all. It should be translated, where requested, into the Romani language or into the languages commonly used by local Roma and/or Traveller communities and should be publicised through relevant media in line with national law or practice (for example, Official Gazette, radio, television, print media, Internet).
ii. Awareness raising about policy/strategy on Roma and/or Travellers should accompany all stages of the development of the strategy, from development to evaluation. Raising awareness on the content and progress made should target authorities at all levels, intended beneficiaries, as well as the general public. Authorities at all levels should be provided with information, guidelines and training on their duty to refrain from discrimination and to implement the strategy.
iii. Such campaigns should provide information on the situation of the Roma and/or Travellers, on anti-discrimination provisions, on individual rights and on redress in cases of discrimination. Information about anti-discrimination bodies should be in a language which is easily understandable by its main beneficiaries.
iv. Awareness-raising campaigns aimed at promoting respect and appreciation of Romani/Traveller history and culture, should accompany the release of the strategy. The support and participation of other communities, particularly the populations living close and interacting with Roma and/or Travellers, should be encouraged. Intercultural dialogue and understanding about Romani culture, cultural features of nomadic and semi-nomadic lifestyle and majority expectations should be promoted.
VII. Implementing the strategy
1. Implementation mechanism
i. An adequately staffed and funded implementation mechanism should be put in place at national, regional and local levels.
ii. Interministerial co-operation and co-ordination among different agencies involved in the strategy’s implementation should be ensured to avoid duplication of efforts and achieve effective implementation.
iii. The relevant legislative or administrative texts should contain:
- clear information on the terms of reference concerning composition, co-ordination, areas of competence, statutory powers, accountability and funding of the responsible implementation mechanism;
- the relevant implementation deadlines and targets, budget allocations, and the obligation to provide information and co-operate with the units responsible for monitoring the strategy.
2. Positive action
i. Where they have not yet done so, the states concerned should consider amending their national legislation in an appropriate manner in order to enable positive action aimed at overcoming particular disadvantages experienced by Roma and/or Travellers and at giving equal opportunities for Roma and/or Travellers in society.
ii. Positive measures should be considered, for example, to enable Roma and/or Travellers to have an equal chance to access all levels of education and/or the labour market, and to be hired as advisers in different fields (education, health, housing, employment, etc.). Positive measures should also be taken to encourage Roma and/or Travellers to take up careers, inter alia, in education, media, state administration and the police. An equal participation of Roma and/or Travellers in electoral processes at the national, regional and local levels should be encouraged.
3. Mediators or assistants
i. Mediators or assistants, whenever possible Roma and/or Travellers, should be used and appointed by state, local or regional authorities, with previous consultation of the respective Roma and/or Traveller communities, to serve as contact persons, provide information to these communities and facilitate administrative and other procedures in the various areas of strategy/policy implementation. They should be institutionalised and receive special and quality training funded, wherever possible, by state, local or regional authorities.
ii. Mediators or assistants should, however, play only a supplementary and interim role, and not serve as a substitute to longer-term comprehensive measures for community empowerment and education.
4. Guidance and training
i. Any new legislation on combating discrimination should be accompanied by guidance for the law enforcement authorities to assist them in effective implementation of the law. Law-enforcement personnel should be provided with training on their duty to refrain from racially-motivated acts themselves and actively prevent and expeditiously prosecute such acts in order to ensure the long-term safety and security of Roma and/or Traveller communities. They should have regular contact with Roma and/or Traveller communities and their leaders to foster co-operation and understanding.
Public officials (such as teachers, police officers, health-care practitioners, social welfare workers) should be made aware of direct and indirect racism and anti-gypsyism in the course of their general training.
ii. Member states should ensure that municipal and other local authorities undergo a process of institutional development to ensure they relate to Roma and/or Traveller communities on a fair and equal basis. Staff training, clear leadership, effective management and supervision, practical guidance, monitoring of performance, and effective complaints procedures are useful tools for securing institutional change.
5. Role of civil society
i. Roma and/or Traveller civil society, in particular NGOs, should be encouraged to take part in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies aimed at improving their living conditions, both at the national and local levels, so that the process may benefit from their valuable experience and expertise.
ii. The authorities should ensure gender balance throughout the consultation process.
iii. In order to ensure effective partnership with NGOs, member states should encourage:
- multiple partnerships with Roma and/or Traveller organisations;
- the establishment of networks of Roma and/or Traveller organisations;
- the development of common projects and regular contacts among Roma and/or Travellers and non-Roma/Traveller organisations;
- the dissemination of information among Roma and/or Traveller communities;
- the enhancement of the capacity of Roma and/or Travellers, to enable them to participate in development projects at local, national and international levels targeting vulnerable groups.
iv. Central and local or regional agencies should be given appropriate resources to develop initiatives in areas with Roma and/or Traveller communities.
v. Member states are responsible for the strategy and should refrain from shifting the burden of responsibility for implementation onto NGOs.
vi. The authorities should hold NGOs accountable for the proper use of public funds allocated to them.
i. The needs of Roma and/or Traveller communities should be incorporated in broader national strategies. Access to and participation in society at large are essential goals, but targeted measures for Roma and/or Travellers should also be pursued where necessary. Mainstreaming should ensure linkage with the rest of activities in the same area, facilitate acceptance of the issue at all levels, and permit access to all necessary administrative mechanisms to ensure Roma and/or Travellers have a say in decisions affecting them. Targeted policies should ensure that specific concerns are not diluted and that the Roma and/or Traveller populations do not become invisible in generic policies.
Mainstreaming should include the gender perspective, which takes into account the specific needs of men and women.
ii. Implementation should go beyond project-based improvements to systemic changes.
VIII. Monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the strategy
1. Monitoring guidelines
i. Appropriate governmental structures or processes should be set up in order to monitor the implementation in various sectors and locally and/or regionally. Monitoring systems should:
- be independent, transparent, well co-ordinated and sufficiently funded;
- involve senior officials, and diverse Roma and/or Traveller representatives selected by the community itself and by Roma NGOs. Gender balance should be respected;
- work on a basis of pre-set indicators and benchmarks, to enable effective assessment of actions taken over a period of time.
ii. Legislative or administrative texts setting up the monitoring structures or processes should contain clear provisions on:
- the mandate, competence, composition, frequency of monitoring, and funding;
- a set of indicators and benchmarks for each area covered in the strategy. These indicators have to be clearly linked to the overall objective of the strategy;
- the categories of measures to be taken, for achieving the strategy objectives, and by which existing public authorities, following consultation with the associations of the persons concerned;
- the measures/projects that can be entrusted to the associations of the persons concerned for implementation and subsequent narrative and financial reports, and on the general conditions to be met in this context;
- the co-ordination and harmonisation procedures to be followed;
- the responsibility of public authorities for delivering monitoring reports;
- independence safeguards, notably freedom to appoint staff and express views publicly, protection against arbitrary dismissal or non-renewal of the mandate.
2. Publication of monitoring reports
i. Monitoring reports should be periodic, public, translated into languages used by the communities concerned (for example, Romani), and made widely available through accessible formats (such as audiotape or CD Rom) and Internet to provide an opportunity for good, reliable, public information on Roma and/or Traveller issues.
Public meetings involving policy makers and experts and representatives of the communities concerned should be considered.
ii. The monitoring of implementation should include a consultation process with Roma and/or Travellers’ communities.
iii. The views of Roma and/or Traveller organisations, including dissenting views, should be reflected in monitoring reports.
iv. Independent monitoring by civil society organisations should be encouraged and their recommendations taken on board as appropriate.
i. Evaluations should take place within a multi-annual programme or strategy, at a set frequency (for example, twice every five years), and after the completion of programmes and strategies to identify long-term impacts and outcomes for the range of intended beneficiaries.
ii. Evaluations should:
- be conducted by independent bodies with competence in development issues, monitoring and evaluation and having a wide representation of interested parties;
- be evidence-based and draw on the results of monitoring and involve not only donors and the implementing bodies but also the perspective of other actors, in particular the relevance to the intended beneficiaries and the real impact on their lives;
- review the performance, cost effectiveness and efficiency of the implementing bodies to ensure accountability and be transparent in their findings to promote confidence;
- become tools for learning and for use in strengthening future programmes and strategies for Roma and/or Travellers in similar areas at national, regional and/or local level.
iii. Funds for measures designed to achieve the strategy objectives shall be authorised, according to the relevant procedures obtaining in each state, for a given period of policy duration and reviewed every year.
iv. If a report submitted by a governmental auditing agency contains sufficient information on aspects warranting continuation of any given measures, this report can replace the report on the evaluation results by including a reference to the latter report.