CG(21)8 appendix

English only

9 September 2011

The situation of Roma[1] in Europe: a challenge for local and regional authorities

Document prepared by Dr Robin Oakley, expert consultant, United Kingdom

May 2011



1.  The context of the report

(a)  Activities of the Council of Europe

(b)  Role and activities of the Congress

2.  The current situation of Roma in Europe

(a)   Numbers, identity and distribution

(b)   Anti-Gypsyism: myths, stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination & racist violence

(c)   Poverty and social exclusion: education, employment, health, housing

(d)   Recent developments: migration, trafficking, right-wing extremism, Roma activism

(e)   Responses at national/inter-governmental levels: Roma Decade, EU, OSCE et al

3.  The challenge for local and regional authorities: an overview

4.  Appropriate actions for local and regional authorities: overall response

5.  Appropriate actions for local and regional authorities: specific fields

A.  Combating anti-Gypsyism and promoting Roma empowerment & participation

(a)  Combating anti-Gypsyism

(b)  Promoting Roma empowerment and participation

B.  Combating poverty and social exclusion and promoting access to social rights

(a) Education

(b) Employment

(c) Health

(d) Housing

6.  The role of the Congress in supporting local and regional authorities

Key recommendations

·         For Local and Regional Authorities

·         For National Governments

·         For the Congress of Local & Regional Authorities


Recent events have highlighted the continuing discrimination and disadvantage faced by Roma across Europe.  In its Strasbourg Declaration of October 2010, the Council of Europe has renewed its commitment to address human rights issues relating to Roma.  Within this framework, it has identified the crucial need for effective action to be taken at the local level.  This presents a special challenge for local and regional authorities (LRAs) across Europe. 

The Congress of Local & Regional Authorities has subsequently committed itself to address this challenge, and has commissioned the present report. The purpose of the report is accordingly:

“To set out the challenge posed specifically to Local & Regional Authorities by the situation of Roma in Europe, and to make recommendations for action to be taken to meet this challenge.”


Recent developments have highlighted the continuing severe discrimination and disadvantage faced by the estimated 10-12 million people of Roma, Traveller and related identity living across Europe.[2]  These developments have included on the one hand the publication of systematic research by international organisations such as the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, the UNDP, and the European Roma Rights Centre.  On the other hand, governments at both national and local levels have engaged in a series of expulsions, evictions and other exclusionary actions against Roma, and these have received widespread publicity in the mass media.  There has also been an increase in anti-Roma activity by extreme-right organisations, including manifestations of hate speech and physical violence.  Human rights organisations and Roma NGOs have expressed strong concern at these developments, and at the failure of governmental bodies at all levels to address the situation of Roma effectively.

(a)  Activities of the Council of Europe

The Council of Europe (CoE) has been active in addressing Roma and Traveller issues for several decades, within the framework of its broader range of activities focusing on the promotion and protection of human and minority rights.[3]  At the Warsaw Summit in 2005, member states confirmed their “commitment to combat all kinds of exclusion and insecurity of the Roma communities in Europe and to promote their full and effective equality”,[4] and a series of Recommendations focusing on fields such as education, housing and health has been issued by the Committee of Ministers over the period from 2000 onwards.[5]

A formal structure within the Council of Europe for addressing Roma issues was first initiated in 1994, with the establishment of the post of Coordinator for Roma Affairs, which was later expanded to become the Roma and Traveller Division within the Directorate on Social Cohesion.  A Specialist Group on Roma/Gypsies (MGS-ROM), composed of experts nominated by member states, was established within this framework in 1995 to advise on the development and implementation of policy in this field.  Other initiatives have included the establishment of the ‘Dosta! Campaign’ and its associated Dosta!-Congress Prize for Municipalities (see separate box below).  Other parts of the CoE have also focused directly on Roma issues within their broader work programmes, including the Commissioner for Human Rights, and especially ECRI, which issued a General Policy Recommendation on Roma in 1998 (supplemented subsequently by a booklet of Practical Examples for its implementation), and which routinely addresses Roma issues within its country monitoring reports.[6]  The CoE has also been active in developing a framework for dialogue with Roma on these issues, and supported the establishment of the European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF) in 2004 as a formal consultative body and partner.

In October 2010, CoE Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland, acknowledging  the continuing social and economic exclusion faced by Roma across Europe, convened a high-level meeting of representatives of member states, the EU and the Roma community, at which the member states agreed on a renewed effort and pan-European response to address these issues.  Specifically, they adopted the ‘Strasbourg Declaration’,[7] which expresses these commitments and includes guiding principles and priorities relating to fields such as non-discrimination, citizenship, women’s and children’s rights, social inclusion, empowerment and access to justice.

The ‘Strasbourg Initiatives’ are a selection of proposals by the Secretary-General, which are complementary to the Strasbourg Declaration, for concrete actions to be implemented by national governments and local and regional authorities, with an immediate and measurable impact. They build on existing activities at European, national and local level, and serve as illustrations of good practice and a catalyst for future action in the implementation of the priorities listed in the Strasbourg Declaration. The proposed initiatives cover fields such as education, health and employment, and invite adaptation of examples drawn from a range of countries, including Hungary, Slovenia, Latvia and Spain.

To promote implementation of the Strasbourg Declaration, the Secretary-General has appointed a Special Representative for Roma Issues (SRSG), Jeroen Schokkenbroek, whose task is to support implementation of the Strasbourg Declaration, and in particular to promote a more transverse and ‘joined up’ approach to Roma issues across the different divisions of the Council of Europe.  The existing Roma and Traveller Division has been integrated into his office, and the specialist advisory committee on Roma Issues (MGS-ROM, now CAH-ROM) has been strengthened with new terms of reference and a membership of higher-level representatives of member states.   The initial activities of the Special Representative’s Office have included introducing a Europe-wide programme of recruitment and training of ‘Roma Mediators’[8] who can assist governmental bodies to reach out to Roma communities in fields such as education, health and employment, and planning for the establishment of a Council of Europe data-base of practical initiatives undertaken in member states to address Roma issues.  

The Council of Europe’s ‘European Training Programme for Roma Mediators’ (ROMED) has been developed to consolidate existing programmes and to use the resources of the CoE to improve the quality and effectiveness of mediators in supporting communication and cooperation between Roma and public institutions at the local level.  This programme builds on previous experience (eg. the Health Mediator programme in Romania: see box below), and works with national and local authorities to identify mediators, and then provides training to equip them with the tools for planning and implementing their activities. It offers a rights-based approach together with a focus on practical action to promote participation and empowerment of Roma, and increased accountability of public institutions. The programme has been designed to take account of the variety of contexts and institutions in which mediators will be working.  The training takes place in two stages, with a six-month practice period in between, and the first round (which involves 15 countries) is already being implemented throughout 2011.  All LRAs across Europe should in due course be able to benefit from this programme, either directly or indirectly through national focal-points and networks.

Within the Strasbourg Declaration, particular emphasis is placed on the importance of implementation of policy initiatives at the local level, and of appropriate action by local and regional authorities for this purpose.[9]  This reflects the fact that, over the past decade, strong concern has been expressed by monitoring bodies and NGOs that national plans and major programmes are having limited impact because they are not being implemented effectively at the local level.[10]

(b)  Role and Activities of the Congress

Within the Council of Europe, the principal body with responsibility for addressing human rights issues at the local level is the Congress for Local and Regional Authorities.  The Congress brings together cities, municipalities and other governmental bodies at local and regional levels from across the whole of Europe, and thus ensures they also have a voice alongside that of national governments within the Council, as well as providing them with the opportunity to cooperate and share experience on developing and implementing policy on human rights issues at the local level. 

As the public authorities closest to citizens, local and regional elected officials are best placed for devising policies to facilitate Roma access to rights, including education, housing and healthcare, and to ensure social inclusion.  However, they have also been criticised for inaction or for failing to carry out central government policies on Roma issues.  On the other hand, government policies have not always included provisions for translation into local action, and local and regional authorities may also face obstacles such as limitations on their legal competences or inadequate financial means.

In his presentation to the 20th Session of the Congress in March 2011, the Special Representative reminded participants that the high-level meeting in October 2010 underlined the key role of local and regional actors in addressing the situation of Roma.  He stressed that the Secretary-General is looking to the Congress to take the lead in promoting action to address Roma issues at the local level within member states.[11]

The Congress has a history of activity relating to Roma going back to 1981, and was one of the earliest bodies within the Council of Europe to address Roma issues.[12]  Over the period 1981 to 1997, it adopted four separate Resolutions on the role and responsibility of local and regional authorities relating to Roma and Travellers.[13]  It has also organised hearings and a transnational seminar on these themes at various points during the past two decades, and in the 1990s took initial steps towards establishing a network of cities, although this did not fully materialise at the time. 

The Congress’s earlier attempts to address these issues and to establish a European-wide network of cities may be instructive.  At a  hearing it organised at Liptovsky Mikulas  in 1992, it was agreed to launch a network of participating cities to share experience, promote cooperation and prepare a good practice guide for mayors.  This ‘Network of Cities on Provision for Roma in Municipalities’ set up a steering group to manage its activities, and then continued to run further hearings from 1994 to 1997, covering on a wide range of issues, including the introduction of Roma mediators.  At the last of these hearings (and in line with the Congress’s Resolution 44 of 1997), it was decided that the Network of Cities should be transformed into an association that would operate independently of the Council of Europe, with the aim of improving provision for Roma by developing a network of cities in every member state.  The new association was registered in Strasbourg, and its founding document was signed by eight major European cities (Ankara, Budapest, Berlin, Cordoba, Pardubice, Strasbourg, Thebes and Varna).  So far as can be discerned, however, this new association did not manage to become operational.  No further action was undertaken subsequently by the Congress until 2003, when on the initiative of the NGO ‘European Dialogue’ (which was coordinating a programme[14] designed to promote strategic partnerships between municipalities and Roma communities in six localities across Central & Eastern Europe), an international seminar on the theme of “Challenges for Cooperation and Integration” was organised by Congress’s Committee on Social Cohesion, with the support of the Roma/Traveller Division and hosted by the city of Rome.  The seminar was attended by Mayors and other representatives of municipalities and Roma from across Europe, and examples of successful cooperation (especially from within European Dialogue’s RrAJE Programme) were presented.  At the end of this meeting, the Committee undertook to revive the idea of setting up a network of towns and cities.  Once again, however, this was not followed through.  At both stages it seems that lack of funding was one of the problems.  However, it would also appear that promoting Roma inclusion was not yet seen as a sufficiently important issue to command support at the highest levels in Congress, the Council of Europe and major European cities, with the result that in the absence of the necessary political will, these earlier initiatives and commitments did not materialise.

In the wake of the Strasbourg Declaration, the Congress has now reaffirmed its commitment to address Roma issues, and this new high-level commitment provides the element of political leadership that is an essential requirement for ensuring that resolutions and plans on these issues can be transformed into practical action.The appointment of a Rapporteur on Roma Issues, the continuing sponsorship of the ‘Dosta! Prize for Municipalities’, and the decision to hold a Summit of Mayors, all point towards a more favourable context for a network and other initiatives to be successfully launched and sustained.  The wider initiatives taken by the Council of Europe to progress implementation of the Declaration, such as the appointment of the Special Representative on Roma Issues and the upgrading of CAH-ROM, also now provide a much more supportive context within which the Congress can progress its work on Roma issues, as does the presence of the ERTF as a consultative and partner Roma body linked to the Council of Europe.  Congress will need to draw on the resources and expertise of these various bodies in order to help maximise the effectiveness of its work.

In 2007, the Congress cooperated with the CoE’s ‘Dosta! Campaign’ to establish a ‘Dosta! Congress Prize for Municipalities’ to support the work of local authorities on Roma issues.  The ‘Dosta! Campaign’, which aims to promote awareness-raising among non-Roma citizens, was developed by the CoE jointly with the EU and initially targeted countries of South Eastern Europe. The Prize is awarded to municipalities from across the CoE member states for innovative initiatives that support diversity and the active participation of Roma. Two sets of awards were made in 2007 and 2009, and a third is in process for 2011. Cities receiving awards in 2009 were Mostar, Prijedor, Volos and Lom. 

In this context of renewed commitment and wider organisational support, the Bureau of the Congress has now charged its Thematic Rapporteur on Roma/ Traveller Issues to make proposals to the Congress on policy action that local and regional authorities can take in order to improve the inclusion of Roma in European countries.  The present report is designed to provide the basis and rationale for such proposals.


The current situation of Roma in Europe has been extensively documented,[15] and it is neither necessary nor appropriate to provide a comprehensive and detailed outline in this report.  It is important, nonetheless, to highlight some of the key features that are of particular relevance for local and regional authorities.

(a)  Numbers, identity and distribution

The generally accepted estimate for the overall number of Roma resident across Europe is between 10 and 12 million persons, and in some member states Roma make up to around 10% of the population.  Roma are therefore the largest ‘minority’ (in terms of ethnic/cultural identity) in Europe, and the only such minority not to have a national ‘homeland’ either in Europe or elsewhere.  In this sense, Roma may be regarded as a truly ‘European’ nation, although they do not have a legal status as such, and take their national status from their country of residence.

Roma are widely distributed across Europe, to the extent that virtually all member states have a Roma population to some degree.  Moreover, although within countries Roma may often be to some extent concentrated in certain regions or localities, they are also widely distributed across towns and cities, and also across both rural and urban areas.  Given also that many Roma continue to be nomadic or engage in migration, addressing Roma issues is therefore relevant and necessary in all states and in all regions and municipalities, even where numbers currently appear to be very small.

The category ‘Roma’ as used here and in the context of the Strasbourg Declaration[16] encompasses a wide variety of groups, not all of whom regard themselves ethnically as Roma, but who have come together at a political level – and/or may be grouped together for such purposes by others – on account of similar interests and life-styles. 

·         The principal division within the category is between Roma and Travellers. This reflects on the one hand that the large majority (80-85%) of ‘Roma’ in Europe are settled rather than nomadic, while on the other, many of those who identify themselves as ‘Travellers’ do not regard themselves as ‘Roma’ in ethnic terms.  For this reason in particular, the Council of Europe has for most purposes in recent years adopted the usage “Roma and Traveller”.

·         As a whole, however, the category (including as used here) encompasses a much wider range of groups which, in addition to Roma and the various sub-groups of Travellers, includes Sinti, Kale, Ashkali, Manouche, and other related groups in Europe.  It also includes groups who positively identify themselves as Gypsies.  This is the terminology now widely used by associations for example in the UK, although across much of Central and Eastern Europe the corresponding terms such as Tsigani still carry strongly pejorative associations and are rejected by those to whom they are applied.

·         Finally, among those who identify themselves as Roma in an ethnic/cultural sense, there are also many sub-divisions which may be linked to language, occupational or other differences, and these groups may organise themselves separately from one another.  Examples of these would be Lovara (horse-dealers) or Kalderash (coppersmiths), although relatively few of the members of such originally occupational groups are likely still to follow such trades today.

(b) Anti-Gypsyism: myths, stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination & racist violence

Anti-Gypsyism, as a specific form of racism targeted at Roma, has deep roots in European history, and reached some of its worst excesses during periods when Roma were subject to slavery (as in Romania up to 1864), pogroms, and finally systematic genocide under the Nazi regime.  Europe-wide attitude surveys show that negative attitudes relating to Roma continue to be the strongest and most pervasive among those for all minority groups (see box below).  Myths and stereotypes about Roma, Gypsies and Travellers continue to prevail in the minds of the non-Roma population, rooted in ignorance, fear and segregation, and still largely unchallenged by education.  The recent resurgence of right-wing extremism targeted at Roma and other groups, fostered by the economic recession, fomented by demagogues, and fed by media reports, demonstrates that anti-Gypsyism continues to be potent as a populist political force. In a recent interview following the 20th Session of the Congress, the President of the ERTF, Rudko Kawczynski, stressed that anti-Gypsyism continues to be “deeply entrenched in Europe, and that is so both at national and at regional and local level”.[17]

The European Commission carried out an opinion poll in 2006 on discrimination and inequality in Europe, including on Europeans' attitudes towards ethnic groups in society. This survey was followed-up two years later with a second round of interviews, asking a more detailed question to ascertain Europeans' attitudes towards Roma.  The first survey revealed that 77% Europeans were of the opinion that being a Roma was a disadvantage in society. The second survey highlighted that around a quarter of Europeans would feel uncomfortable having a Roma neighbour, and this tendency is substantially higher towards Roma than towards persons of different ethnic origin generally.[18]

Discrimination against and enforced segregation of Roma continue to be widespread across Europe, both at national and local levels.  Forced evictions from residential sites and ghettoisation of Roma persist, as do segregated educational provision in schools.  Migrant Roma seeking new opportunities in Western Europe may face the added dimension of being corralled in camps, and in some cases may face expulsion and deportation, regardless of citizenship status and associated rights.


·         Dale Farm in Basildon UK is one of the largest Traveller sites in Europe. Residents have been resisting eviction for many years, but Basildon Council now plans to spend an estimated £15 million (a third of its annual budget) to evict 70-80 families (amounting to around 300 people) who have been unsuccessful in obtaining the necessary legal permissions to continue to reside on land they already own.

·         In a thinly-veiled attack on Roma citizens, more than 60 Czech Mayors, following a meeting in the town of Novy Bydzov, recently signed a declaration calling for tough new powers to combat petty crime and anti-social behaviour, remove social benefits, and banish non-registered residents. This followed an earlier declaration by the town’s Mayor, openly condemning the town’s Roma population in general in the wake of a number of complaints and allegations by non-Roma residents.

·         In Hungary, right-wing organisations and vigilante groups have been able to openly enter towns and villages to intimidate and attack Roma communities.

·         In Italy, several cities have forcibly demolished Roma camps and removed their inhabitants, and prefects have expelled Roma who are EU citizens back to Romania.

·         The government of France has deported several thousands of Roma back to Romania and Bulgaria, alleging that Roma immigration is directly linked to crime.

Acts of physical violence against Roma, designed both to hurt and to intimidate, and including by mobs and organised right-wing groups, continue to take place across Europe.  In Europe-wide surveys, Roma are the group with the highest level of self-reported incidents which are perceived as being racially motivated.  Effective police protection against racist attacks on Roma has been minimal, and offenders are rarely brought successfully to justice.[19]  Indeed, on occasion, police themselves have been agents of violence and abuse against Roma, as well as regularly engaging in ethnic profiling.

The EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s EU-MIDIS survey, published in 2009, showed that Roma across Europe have the highest level of victimisation by ‘racially-motivated’ assaults among all minority/migrant groups, as judged by the perception of the victim.  18% of Roma interviewees said they had been victim of at least one such incident in the previous 12 months.  Of all those who had experienced any kind of assault or threat during the same period, 73% considered that the perpetrators of the last incident had targeted them because of their ethnic identity.  The vast majority of these incidents went unreported, and in 75% of cases the reason stated by Roma for not reporting was ‘no confidence in the police’.  This again was by far the highest for any group, as was the proportion giving the reason ‘fear of intimidation from perpetrator’.[20]

In some cases, LRAs themselves have been the agents of such treatment, although in others LRAs have been active in trying to address and prevent the problems.  In general, however, these are all situations that LRAs have many powers to address, either directly, or by working in partnership with other local agencies including the police.

(c) Poverty and social exclusion: education, employment, health, housing

Discrimination and segregation have been compounded by poverty and general exclusion from access to a wide range of social rights in fields such as education, employment, health and housing.  The situation in each of these fields has been overviewed in the recent Berenyi Report for the Parliamentary Assembly, and has been subject to much more detailed examination in a range of reports by other Council of Europe bodies, by EU agencies, and by a variety of other organisations.  They show continuing severe exclusion and disadvantage for Roma across Europe in all fields, and they also highlight how exclusion and disadvantage in each of these fields are interconnected and thus mutually sustaining.  As will be argued in more detail below, this situation crucially calls for an integrated, holistic approach rather than treating individual fields in isolation.  This has major implications for the way in which LRAs need to approach the situation of Roma in their areas.

A recent report by Amnesty International on the situation of Roma in Slovenia highlights a pattern of housing that could be paralleled in many other countries in Central & Eastern Europe.  Many Roma are living in poorly built, overcrowded shacks in isolated and segregated settlements, far away from health services, schools, employment and shops. Continuing discrimination condemns them to live in housing without basic public services.  Their whole existence, from their health to the education of their children and their chances of finding work, is affected.  Some municipalities refuse to provide public services because the settlements are ‘irregular’, despite the fact that residents may have been living there for decades. The report particularly highlights the failure to provide safe drinking water and adequate sanitation, which particularly affects the health and welfare of Roma women and children.[21]

(i) Education

Levels of education, literacy and sustained school attendance still remain extremely low among the Roma population across Europe.  Effective access to good quality education is almost universally recognised as the most fundamental need and priority for Roma inclusion, especially in the long-term.  However, it continues to be the case, as successive studies and reports have shown, and as summarised in the Berenyi Report, that:

“Roma children remain excluded from quality education in many member states. They are either segregated into Roma-only classes, unjustly considered unfit for normal classes (and shunted into schools for disabled children) or – even worse – they cannot even attend school at all. Language and geographic isolation are further barriers Roma have to face in order to access education.”[22]

The ECtHR has condemned separate education in special schools in a recent judgement on a case involving the Czech Republic, although despite the acknowledged problems in this field, the Czech Republic has been one of the most active states in addressing education issues at both national and local levels.  Other states have also been active in addressing the education issues.  This is a field in which LRAs can play a major role, and there are a number of examples of good practice at the local level which need to be multiplied and integrated into mainstream educational policy and practice within and across all member states.

(ii)  Employment

The loss of traditional occupations followed by the collapse of the communist system across much of Europe have meant that Roma have been left with low levels of marketable skills and high levels of unemployment (at up to 80% in some states).  This in turn has led to extensive poverty, which – while not of course exclusive to Roma – when combined with discrimination and segregation is particularly severe and very difficult to break out of when there is also a lack of education and qualifications.  In the long run, of course, the solution is primarily one of access to and achievement in education.  However, there is also an urgent need in the short run to promote access to paid employment for Roma, and to create opportunities for acquiring ‘catch-up’ education and skills that can facilitate such access.  Creating opportunities for self-employment and business development from within the Roma community are also part of the way forward in this situation.  Measures to access employment are therefore a key component of strategies to address the situation of Roma and to break the cycle of poverty and exclusion.

(iii)  Health

Health and access to healthcare services may be identified as a further key field of access to social rights which together make up this dimension of the Roma situation.  As was noted in the OSCE Status Report 2008, the average lifespan of Roma is lower than that of the majority population by about 10 years.  Residential segregation compounded by language barriers, lack of education and discrimination by health care professionals result in widespread lack of access to health services and preventive health care on the part of Roma across Europe. Health problems are aggravated by poverty, and the absence of basic amenities such as fresh running water, electricity and sanitation in many areas where Roma live.  These problems may particularly affect women (who in some countries have also been subject to forced sterilisation) and young children, as well as those with disabilities of any kind.  The specific location of Roma settlements near refuse dumps, motorways, or factories may also have adverse effects upon health.  Most of these issues are amenable to action by LRAs, either directly or through cooperation with other public or private agencies.

(iv)  Housing

Housing as a social right, and a condition for access to other social rights, is also a key field for addressing the situation of Roma.  Currently, Roma and Travellers across Europe suffer severe disadvantage in this field, often compounded by segregation and evictions.  The findings of the FRA in its report on the housing situation of Roma in the European Union also represent the wider situation for Roma across Europe as a whole:

“Roma and Travellers are strongly disadvantaged in private and social housing throughout the European Union. This includes discrimination in access to housing, poor housing conditions, segregation, and forced evictions. Sometimes, Roma live in squalid shanty-towns and temporary camps, often in segregated and environmentally hazardous areas. Very often, Roma housing areas have poor access to public services, employment and schools, and are without adequate access to public utilities such as water, electricity or gas.”[23]

The FRA report also highlighted forced evictions from municipal accommodation (both housing and traveller sites), even of Roma who are regular rent payers. It noted that these evictions often happen without prior notice, and may involve police violence and destruction of personal property. In addition, there have been many cases where authorities fail to provide alternative accommodation and/or adequate compensation for expropriation.

These findings underline the way in which housing too is an integral part of the interconnected dimensions of the process of deprivation and exclusion of Roma across Europe.  They also highlight the key role of LRAs, which while they may often have played a role in exacerbating the problems – if only by their inaction – are also crucial players in promoting solutions at the local level.

(d) Recent developments: migration, trafficking, right-wing extremism, Roma activism

Until fairly recently, the main features of the situation of Roma across Europe have been the discrimination, segregation and poverty faced by settled Roma in Central and Eastern Europe, and the more specific forms of disadvantage, harassment and exclusion faced by the various groups of Travellers in the West.

However, within the past decade or two, other dimensions have become more prominent, several of which have already been mentioned.  Of these, migration of Roma, particularly to Western Europe from countries formerly in the Soviet Bloc to the east, has been the most prominent.  The enlargement of and opening of borders within the EU, and the demand for cheap unskilled labour in the West, have been the principal factors underlying this development.  A recent study by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency concluded that “Roma from other EU Member States are now part of the townscape of every Member State of the EU”, and this has added a major new dimension to the challenge faced by LRAs in Europe.[24]

The recent rise in right-wing extremism targeted against Roma is a second dimension that has exacerbated the situation of Roma, both on account of its impact at political level, and its direct instigation of acts of violence directly against Roma.[25]  Other important dimensions include the growth in trafficking in women, mainly from Eastern Europe to the West, and the problems faced by Roma displaced persons and asylum-seekers, from Kosovo[26] and other parts of the Balkans.

One final dimension of this situation that has been changing is the response from within the Roma community itself.  There is an increasing amount of NGO activity, mobilising and representing Roma opinion and campaigning for remedial action, and there has also been a gradual increase in the (still low) level of Roma participation in national and local politics.  A new generation of young educated Roma leaders is emerging who are increasingly taking the lead, and they provide new opportunities for partnership and cooperation to public authorities at all levels.  Within the communities on the ground, there have also been signs of a new willingness to express protest on the streets (e.g. in Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic), even though as yet these manifestations have been isolated and relatively small.  However, the President of the ERTF has warned that there is a new mood among young Roma people, who are angry and frustrated at the present situation, and who cannot be expected to remain quiescent for long.[27]  The Executive Secretary of ERTF has also recently raised the question of whether it is time for Roma to look at the experience of Black people in the USA, and the methods of public protest, awareness-raising and self-help that substantially transformed their situation over several decades.[28]  LRAs need to be ready to recognise and respond to these potential developments, and find ways to work also with a new generation of young Roma leaders to the advantage of all sections of the community generally.

(e) Responses at governmental/inter-governmental levels: Roma Decade, EU, OSCE, et al

The responses to this situation have intensified over the past decade, especially at transnational levels, although at national and at local and regional levels responses remain very uneven.  These responses constitute an important aspect of the situation which the Congress has committed itself to address.

The wider responses of the Council of Europe, which was the first transnational body to address these issues at all systematically, have already been outlined.  Other key players at inter-governmental level include the OSCE, the EU, the Open Society Institute (OSI), the World Bank and UNDP.

The OSCE, following its initial overview report on the situation of Roma , and under the guidance of its first Senior Adviser on Roma & Sinti Issues, Nicolae Gheorghe, formulated a comprehensive Action Plan in 2003 to support the development and implementation of responses in OSCE participating states.  This contained a strong admonition at its outset that “implementation strategies should include mechanisms to ensure that national policies are implemented at the local level”. The Action Plan led to a wide range of OSCE-supported initiatives, and progress has been recently reviewed in the Status Report on the Implementation of the Action Plan of 2008.[29]  Despite positive achievements, however, the Report concluded that the implementation process suffered from a lack of political will, and “from a failure to implement policies at the local level.”

The EU first systematically began to address Roma issues in the run-up to accession for countries in central and eastern Europe, many of whom had substantial Roma populations.  This led to considerable activity, supported by EU funds, especially in the form of transnational projects and requirements for the development of national-level strategies in the prospective member states.  Once accession had been agreed, however, the momentum from this direction was much reduced, and there was little provision in most of the national strategies for ensuring that there would be effective implementation locally.

At this point, the initiative was grasped by the Soros Foundation/Open Society Institute, working jointly with the World Bank, UNDP and a variety other partner bodies, who together established the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015 Programme.  Eight countries in Central and South-East Europe participated initially in the Decade programme (now 12), each developing and implementing national Decade action plans, and with financial and technical support for the programme from the Decade Trust Fund.  The Roma Education Fund has also been established and operates within the Decade framework.  For LRAs in countries participating in the Decade, these frameworks should be able to provide important opportunities for undertaking and financing Roma-focused activities.  However a recent study of the institutional set-up in six of the Decade countries found that “the regional/local institutional set-up is rather weak”, and that “regional and local governments are practically inactive within the Roma Decade”.[30]

A significant role has also been played on its own account by the World Bank, which approaches Roma issues in Europe in the context of its work on poverty and economic development in the region.[31]  The Bank generally works at country level, but has also supported and funded municipal-level initiatives, micro-projects, and local Roma NGOs. One of its most relevant projects for LRAs is the DILS Project in Serbia (Delivery of Improved Local Services), which strengthens the capacity of local administrations to deliver services in fields such as education and health, particularly to Roma and other disadvantaged groups. Viewing the overall situation of Roma from an economic perspective, the World Bank has also warned about the massive economic costs associated with allowing Roma exclusion to persist unchecked, and the potential economic benefit to be gained by developing the vast human resources within the Roma population across Europe.[32]

The work of the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) on Roma issues in Europe has also been important.  In particular, it pioneered the use of surveys to gather reliable statistical data about Roma,[33] and it continues to play an active role within the framework of the Decade of Roma in promoting data collection and measurement tools.  Due to the need to base policies on accurate data, and to use statistical measurement also for evaluation purposes, the work of UNDP in this field is highly relevant for LRAs.  The EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency has also been active in the field of data collection relating to Roma, and the development of methods for this purpose (see box above).  The FRA has now been specifically tasked by the European Commission to collect data to measure the impact of policies relating to Roma ‘on the ground’, so as to assist national and local authorities to develop more effective integration strategies.

Within the last few years, Roma issues have moved higher back up the EU agenda generally.  The EU Roma Summit in September 2008 led to the adoption of a set of 10 Basic Common Principles for addressing effectively the inclusion of Roma, one of which is “involvement of regional and local authorities”.  Subsequently, the European Commission has put forward a ‘European Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020’, designed to help guide national Roma policies and mobilise funds available at EU level to support inclusion efforts.  EU member states will be required to submit national Roma strategies by the end of 2011, which accord with the 10 Basic Principles, and which set out how national governments will set about attaining agreed common goals in the fields of education, employment, health and housing.  At the same time, Roma issues are now mainstreamed within all EU activities, so that major sources of funding support can be accessed for Roma-focused projects, including the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund.[34]  However, the challenge to ensure that implementation reaches down to local and regional levels remains.  The Committee of the Regions has stressed that “local authorities should not be left on their own when addressing social inclusion policies for the Roma community”, and they should be provided with much stronger support for carrying out their crucial role.[35]

The extent to which LRAs can benefit from these various inter-governmental responses to the situation of Roma will depend on whether they fall within their geographical scope, and how far they offer solutions to their specific needs and circumstances.  It will be important for the initiatives of the Congress to be well-coordinated with the initiatives of these other inter-governmental bodies that are relevant for the work of LRAs, so that LRAs can be clear about the opportunities and resources available at inter-governmental level, and how they can gain maximum benefit from them.

So far as responses at national and at regional and local levels are concerned, this is not the place to review these in any detail.  As has already been noted, national responses have been very variable, and where national strategies have been developed, their impact to date appears to have been limited, with support for implementation at the local level being particularly weak.  The responses of LRAs across Europe has also been very limited, although there have also been some significant examples of good practice. So far as governmental responses as a whole are concerned, then, this is the situation that individual LRAs face at the present time.  The recent emergence of a number of regional and national-level networks or platforms of municipalities working on Roma issues is, however, an encouraging development.  Another is the engagement of Roma NGOs in promoting positive responses by LRAs, as for example in ERGO’s ‘Thank you! Partnering for Roma Inclusion’ Campaign, which invites Roma to come forward and publicly thank a Roma-friendly Mayor.

Examples of regional- and national-level networks of LRAs currently working on Roma issues include:

·         The French working group of the ‘Réseau des Grandes Villes’ on Roma issues

·         The Greek Rom Inter-Municipal Network

·         The Dutch Platform Roma-Municipalities

·         The ‘Mayors for Roma Inclusion Forum’ in adjacent regions of Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia


What has become clear over the past decade, therefore, is that the overall situation of Roma continues to be one of social exclusion compounded with severe disadvantage across a number of interconnected fields, despite the extensive efforts at national and transnational levels to address the problem.  It is also clear that remedying this situation calls especially for effective action at the local level, and that to date such action has at best been limited and uneven when viewed across Europe as a whole.  There is of course much variability in the situation of Roma at both national and local levels, and (as will be documented further below) there are also examples of good practice by LRAs.  Despite this, however, the challenge faced by LRAs throughout Europe is a very substantial one, and one that is crucial they can successfully meet.

The nature of this challenge for LRAs across Europe as a whole can accordingly be summarised in the following way:

1)     LRAs are in the key position to take/lead/coordinate the necessary action at the local level to address the situation of Roma.

2)     LRAs have their own legal & HR responsibilities to address Roma issues, and they also have a wide range of powers they can use for this purpose (although the extent of these varies between member states)

3)     Ways will need to be found to overcome non-Roma resistance & anti-Gypsyism in the wider population.

4)     LRAs will need to show leadership & vision, and win support from all sections of community for addressing Roma issues.

5)     LRAs will need to monitor and analyse the local situation, & develop and implement strategies for Roma inclusion appropriate for their particular circumstances, measuring the outcomes of their initiatives so as to be able to show whether the desired impact has been achieved.

6)     Action will be needed in a range of interconnected fields, including education, employment, housing and health, and an integrated approach will therefore be required, which will need to involve a variety of different agencies working jointly or in a coordinated manner.

7)     LRAs will need to win confidence of, and work in partnership with, the local Roma community, and undertake capacity-building in the Roma community for this purpose.

8)     LRAs will also need to recognise and respond to the fact that there may be diversity in the identity and circumstances of different groups of Roma, and in particular respond to the different needs of settled Roma, travelling Roma and Roma who are migrants from another state.

9)     LRAs will also need to work in cooperation with national government, to ensure national policies are effectively implemented at the local level, and to obtain expert, financial and other support for their local initiatives.

Without an effective response from LRAs to the above needs in the coming decade, little improvement in the current situation of Roma across Europe can be expected.  Poverty and exclusion will persist, the human rights deficit will continue, frustration and resentment in the Roma community will increase, and progress in building social cohesion across Europe will be undermined.  It is crucial therefore that LRAs take the appropriate actions to address this challenge, and do so urgently across the whole of Europe.


Although a variety of actions are likely to be needed, particularly in specific fields, it is important (as indicated above) that these are not planned and implemented in isolation from each other.  An integrated approach is essential, which recognises the inter-connected nature of problems in specific fields, and approaches each of these in the context of an overall response that is holistic.[36]  This holistic response needs also to be strategic, with clear objectives and an action plan setting out the targets and stages for their achievement, so outcomes can be measured.

The key actions to be taken by LRAs in establishing a strategic approach to promoting the inclusion of Roma at local and regional level should be the following:[37]

a)     Public declaration by the Mayor of a commitment to address Roma issues, in the context of wider actions for building an intercultural city generally, and setting out a vision of the goal to be achieved.

b)    Engage leaders of the Roma community in the local area/region to work in partnership to implement this commitment.

c)     Appointment of a senior official to take overall responsibility for work within the authority on Roma issues, with direct reporting/accountability to the Mayor, and working in close cooperation with the Roma community.

d)    Establishment of structures (either separately or jointly, as appropriate):

          i.    to coordinate the work of departments within the authority

         ii.    for partnership and consultation with the Roma (and also non-Roma) community

        iii.    for cooperation with other local agencies (e.g. health, police – as appropriate)

e)     Provision of awareness training & practice-oriented workshops for both managers and operational staff on Roma issues, with Roma participation in both planning and delivery.

f)     Documentation and analysis of the local situation of Roma and current responses to this (covering all aspects and fields), so to provide a sound evidence base for developing the authority’s response (and also for measuring progress)[38]

g)    Development and implementation of a strategy and action plan based on this analysis, which will

          i.    address key fields (see list below) as required, with appropriate initiatives

         ii.    prioritise these in accordance with local need and circumstances

        iii.    adopt an integrated approach, recognising the fields are inter-connected

        iv.    set out time-scales, targets, and methods for monitoring and evaluating progress

         v.    address Roma issues in the context of wider strategies to combat disadvantage and on ethnic diversity generally

h)     Secure the necessary financial and other resources for implementation of the plan, from internal and external sources as appropriate (eg. national governments, EU structural funds, Roma Education Fund, CoE Bank, etc.)

i)      Appoint Roma mediators to facilitate implementation of the strategy, and promote Roma empowerment and participation in all spheres of activity.

j)      Take actions to combat ignorance, myths and stereotypes among the non-Roma population, including via local media, and adopt initiatives that, so far as possible, will involve other groups with similar problems and benefit all sections of the community.

k)     Mainstream addressing Roma-specific issues into the core functioning of the LRA as a successful inter-cultural city generally.


More detailed guidance on developing strategic approaches in partnership with Roma communities can  be found in the Guidance Manual: “Promoting Roma Integration at the Local Level: Practical Guidance for NGOs and Public Authorities”, produced by the London-based NGO European Dialogue, coordinator of the RrAJE Programme (Roma Rights and Access to Justice in Europe). This programme was carried out in six cities/regions of Central and Eastern Europe in 2000-2004, and drew on UK experience of addressing minority integration at the local level.  After setting out basic principles, the guidance covers four main areas: minority empowerment, building partnerships at the municipal level, developing and implementing local strategies, and mainstreaming and institutional change.  A wide variety of practical examples from the Programme are included. The guidance can be accessed at

Botosani is the county town in one of the poorest regions of Romania.  It has a relatively small Roma population who are mainly concentrated in two neighbourhoods, the historic centre and a group of large deteriorating housing blocks.  A local Roma NGO, Divano Romano, had recently been formed following a successful project to establish a scheme for ‘health mediators’ between Roma families and health agencies in the town.  The health mediator project had been coordinated by the Bucharest-based NGO Romani CRISS, and CRISS worked with the RrAJE Programme (see above) to build the capacity of Divano Romano to act as a partner for the municipality in addressing Roma issues generally.  With strong support of the Mayor and his Roma Deputy, a Joint Commission was established, with representation from all the main departments of the municipality and from other public authorities.  The Commission undertook to develop a plan for implementation of the Government’s National Strategy for Roma at the local level, and for this purpose formulated a local ‘vision’, undertook a needs analysis, and then formulated a detailed action plan which identified key priority areas.  The priority actions (many of which were low cost) were then implemented, using local, RrAJE or other external funding.  They included a project to ensure all Roma possessed valid ID cards, the establishment of a welfare office and advice centre, a housing renovation project, and a Roma women’s project.  Training programmes were also provided to equip teachers, police and health practitioners to support the plan.

In Manchester, in the UK, a community of some 2,000 Romanian Roma has become established in the southern part of the city.  The City Council has recognised that their prospects must be raised if community cohesion is to improve in the long term. As their numbers increased, frustration among some local people grew, with complaints about noise, aggressive begging, rubbish being dumped on the streets, truancy and overcrowding, as large extended families crammed into small rented houses. But a concerted effort by the council, the health service and the police to help Roma  people integrate better into Manchester is now making an impact. The council's strategy group, set up in 2009, with representation from all the organisations working with Roma residents, has drafted extra police officers and cleaners into the area and children have been found school places.  Outreach work has been undertaken to explain what is expected of Roma households in terms of schooling, rubbish disposal and general behavior, together with advice sessions to help Roma to access legal employment. In addition, two community members have been recruited to work with new Roma pupils in local schools, and a Roma social worker has been engaged on a team which undertakes outreach work on health issues with minority communities.

In the Czech Republic, municipalities can take advantage of financial and expert support from the government to develop and implement inclusive strategic plans for tackling issues affecting Roma in their areas. An expert consultant provided by the Government Agency for Social Inclusion in Roma Localities helps to bring together all the relevant actors in a platform for partnership, and they work together to address fields such as education, housing, employment, social services and security in an integrated manner.  Twenty-two localities are currently involved in this scheme, which brought CZK 82 million into these areas in 2010.


The two broad areas, already identified in section 2 above, in which LRAs need to take specific action are:

A.    Combating anti-Gypsyism  in the wider population, in the form of myths, stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination & racist violence,  and promoting Roma empowerment and participation; and

B.    Combating poverty and social exclusion and promoting access to social rights, in specific fields such as education, employment, health and housing.

In all of these areas, the experience of LRAs in taking action in relation to migrants and minorities more generally is likely to be relevant and should be drawn on, while also ensuring that the specific features of the situation of Roma are appropriately addressed.  The Congress has in recent years adopted a number of resolutions and recommendations which are more broadly based in this way, but which are also relevant for the work of LRAs on Roma issues.[39]

A.  Combating Anti-Gypsyism and promoting Roma empowerment & participation

Combating anti-Gypsyism and promoting Roma empowerment & participation are ‘two sides of the same coin’, and many actions to address one will also contribute to the other.  Both are fundamental to the achievement of successful Roma inclusion, and there are a wide range of actions that can be taken at the local and regional level to address them.

(a)  Combating Anti-Gypsyism

Anti-Gypsyism, as indicated, may take a variety of forms, including myths, stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, hate speech & racist violence.  Key actions that LRAs can take are the following:

  i.    Produce and disseminate materials (leaflets, booklets, CDs, web-pages, etc) to provide accurate information and positive images relating to Roma and to counter negative myths and stereotypes, and also promote work in schools and local mass media for this purpose.

 ii.    Organise awareness-raising activities on Roma culture and history which can bring together Roma and non-Roma communities.

iii.    Explain the rationale of actions to promote Roma inclusion to the non-Roma population, consulting with them as appropriate to obtain their support; and so far as possible design activities that will bring visible benefit to both Roma and non-Roma communities, and that will enable members of both groups to work together and so build mutual understanding and respect.

iv.    Make sure to avoid, especially in statements by political leaders and senior officials, use of negative stereotypes and terminology relating to Roma.

 v.    Actively and publicly condemn and counter any public manifestations of anti-Gypsyism in the form of hate speech, discrimination, threats and physical violence, whether by individuals or organised groups, and take steps to help to ensure that the law is enforced effectively and in a non-discriminatory manner by police and other responsible agencies.

In Salford, in the UK, the City Council has published a series of ‘profiles’ providing information about the various ethnic minorities resident in the city, including separate booklets on the indigenous Romany Gypsy community, the Irish Traveller community, and the Roma community originating from central and Eastern Europe.  These booklets provide detailed information about the history and culture of each community, and thus play an important role in combating ignorance, myths and stereotypes.  The booklets also include information about specific issues affecting the communities, such as in education, housing and health, and so are particularly useful to professionals and others working in these fields. 

The city of Lille in France has, like many other cities across Europe, since 2007 experienced the arrival of a substantial number of Roma from Romania.  In response to initial work by local NGOs, the Mayor of Lille appealed to other local mayors to help establish several ‘villages d’insertion’ to provide housing and other social support for Roma families.  These developments have highlighted issues relating to Roma and Travellers (gens du voyage) more generally in the city and region.  When, in 2009, the city of Lille organised a major cultural festival on the future of Europe (Lille 3000, Europe XXL), it included the future of Roma as one of the main themes within a wide-ranging programme.  As well as musical and other cultural events, it organised two public round tables to help raise public awareness of the issues, the first focusing on the contrast between the image of Roma and the reality, and the second on the practicalities of social inclusion of Roma and Travellers.  These events were organised in cooperation with local community and human rights associations working on these issues.

The role of police in combating anti-Gypsyism and ensuring the protection and safety of Roma communities is particularly important.  In some member states, cities are responsible for their own ‘municipal police’, although these may have limited powers in comparison with national police bodies.  Cities, however, need to work in cooperation with whatever police bodies have the necessary powers to deal with these issues, and establish structures and initiatives for this purpose.  The OSCE’s Strategic Police Matters Unit, in cooperation with its Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues, has produced a practical guidance booklet: ‘Police and Roma and Sinti: Good Practices in Building Trust and Understanding’.[40]  As well as general guidance, this includes a number of practical examples, including of initiatives at the local level involving cooperation between police, local government and Roma communities. These include introduction of ‘liaison officers’ in communities in Slovakia, ‘police assistants’ in Brno, Ostrava and other cities in the Czech Republic, and local projects in several states to provide identity cards and other documents for Roma residents. Police should be encouraged to set up local consultative bodies with Roma and other citizens, and should be represented in structures established by LRAs for multi-agency cooperation in addressing Roma issues at the local level.

(b)  Promoting Roma Empowerment and Participation

Promoting Roma empowerment and participation should be understood broadly, so as to include supporting the maintenance of ethnic and cultural identity among Roma, as well as capacity to self-organise and represent Roma interests, together with participating as individuals and groups in wider structures and social contexts in the local area.  Key actions that LRAs can take include:

  i.    Establish structures to ensure that the voice of Roma communities is heard by those responsible for addressing Roma issues (including the voice of women and young people), either in the form of Roma-specific consultative bodies, or by involving Roma in representative bodies for minorities and community groups generally.

 ii.    Provide information and civic education programmes to promote active citizenship in the Roma community.

iii.    Promote and support the development or strengthening of local Roma associations that can mobilise and articulate this voice in appropriate forums, act as partners for the local authority for specific initiatives, and undertake activities to meet needs of the Roma community internally.

iv.    Recruit, train and provide properly-established employment for Roma mediators, drawn where possible from the local Roma community, who can assist with these tasks (and serve as mentors and role models).

 v.    Establish specialist advisory and/or executive posts within the authority with responsibility for Roma/intercultural issues, both centrally (eg. Roma advisor to the Mayor), and at departmental level (e.g. specialist adviser on Roma education policy, or specialist teacher working with schools).

vi.    Establish or support, working in partnership with Roma associations, activities to promote Roma culture and identity (eg. in fields such as music, craft and drama), both within the Roma community and also for presentation within the wider community (including schools), where Roma culture can be a resource for promoting intercultural understanding as well for potential employment.

vii.    Promote Roma participation in the full range of activities undertaken by the local authority, including in local politics (e.g. by voter registration and by standing as candidates for election), and especially encourage participation by women and young people.[41]

In the Presov Region of NE Slovakia, a regional Roma NGO based in Kezmarok organised, with the support of the Mayor, a training programme to increase Roma participation in forthcoming local and national elections.  Around 15 people from each of eleven Roma settlements in the Presov region attended the training, and as a result 27 of the 66 Roma candidates who came forward were elected into office.  To follow-up the successful election results, round tables were held to bring together the Roma councillors and local mayors so that they could engage in dialogue and joint planning.  This in turn led to the establishment of a Roma Civic Forum, bringing together Roma NGOs and local authorities on a regional-level. Through this regional-level Forum, local actors were able to meet with senior regional and national government officials, and explore the potential for projects and external funding that can help to combat the poverty and social exclusion of the Roma population in the region. 

The Roma settlement of Kamenci, in the municipality of Črenšovci in Slovenia, has been the base for a wide range of cultural initiatives, as well as successfully addressing issues around school participation, housing and employment.  Many Roma traditions have been revived, such as housing styles, music and dance, and traditional crafts.  A Roma museum has also been established, all this resulting in the area becoming a local tourist attraction, thus contributing positively to the local economic situation.  The settlement’s association and the municipality recently jointly hosted the launch of the CoE’s ‘European Route of Roma Culture and Heritage’, which will bring together a wide range of municipalities, Roma bodies and other agencies involved in the preservation and promotion of Roma culture.  While their primary goals are educational, such cultural activities can also bring economic benefit for municipalities that sponsor them and for Roma who participate in them.

B.  Combating poverty and social exclusion and promoting access to social rights

The second broad area that needs to be addressed by LRAs in their local action plans on Roma issues is that of combating poverty and social exclusion and promoting access to social rights.  The four main fields of access to social rights identified in section 2 above are education, employment, health and housing, and key actions to take in each field are identified in the following sections.[42]

(a)  Education

Access to good quality education has been widely identified as the crucial long-term need so far as Roma inclusion is concerned, and should therefore be considered a priority by LRAs in developing and implementing local strategies.  Actions should be targeted at all levels of education, but should be particularly targeted at ensuring that all Roma children complete at least their primary education,[43] and thus obtain essential literacy and other core skills which can be foundations for them to become active and informed citizens.  Member states will vary in the extent to which LRAs have responsibility for provision of education, and LRAs will therefore need to take account of national policy and administrative frameworks, and cooperate with relevant national bodies as appropriate.

The key actions that LRAs should take, as required by their circumstances, are the following:

  i.    Discontinue any segregated schooling for Roma (including de facto segregated schooling in ‘special schools’), and ensure that all Roma children are educated in integrated classes in mainstream schools, with any special provision linked to Roma background (eg. language teaching) being delivered within this context.

 ii.    Work together with Roma parents and NGOs to ensure that all Roma children enter primary school and attend on a regular basis, providing transport and other material support where necessary, and engage Roma mediators to facilitate this.

iii.    Make pre-school provision for Roma children (and their families) where necessary, to prepare them for school, so that they can enter so far as possible on the same footing as non-Roma children.

iv.    Engage Roma ‘teaching assistants’ to support Roma children in class, especially in the first year of primary school, both to assist the professionally-trained teachers in their work, and to help the children to integrate effectively into the school environment.

 v.    Make arrangements to encourage Roma children who have completed primary school to continue into secondary education, so as to obtain occupational qualifications and skills.

vi.    Make provision for children and young people who left school early to return to education and obtain basic skills and occupational qualifications.

vii.    Where there are children from Roma & Traveller families who follow a travelling lifestyle, make arrangements to ensure continuity of education, eg. by promoting coordination between schools, providing families with records of the child’s progress, and making provision for educational activity while ‘on the road’.

viii.    In the case of children in migrant Roma families, make provision for their admission to school and for support (particularly as regards language and social inclusion), and arrange for outreach work and liaison with their families as appropriate.

ix.    Provide training for teachers and other staff working with Roma children and their families, with participation from the Roma community in both planning and delivery.

 x.    Engage expert teachers and advisers to assist with the above work where necessary, and also engage the cooperation and support of Roma NGOs.

xi.    Ensure that schools cooperate with other relevant local agencies (eg. health, welfare, housing) in supporting Roma children in education where necessary, so that a ‘joined-up’ approach is adopted.

xii.    Promote and organise out-of-school educational activities to engage Roma children and young people, and to bring them into contact with non-Roma children, especially in fields such as culture and sport.

In Salford, in the UK, the City Council has established a small specialist team of teachers and teaching assistants (EMTAS – Ethnic Minority & Traveller Achievement Service) to support and monitor children from a variety of minority ethnic backgrounds, and in particular to work with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.  Their activities include directly supporting children in the classroom, delivering specialist teaching to improve language acquisition, and liaising with school staff and families to address the particular needs of the child. Awareness training on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller issues has been provided to a variety of professional groups within and outside education, with participation by community members also. EMTAS has also undertaken a variety of projects with schools and communities as part of the annual National Gypsy Roma and Traveller Month, especially in fields such as art, music and drama, and also works with schools to incorporate learning around Gypsy, Roma and Traveller issues into the mainstream curriculum.

In Sofia, in Bulgaria, the Fakulteta district is one of the largest segregated settlement areas with a Roma population of around 35,000.  Working in partnership with local Roma NGOs and an international expert as adviser, the municipality established an ‘Advisory Audit Commission’, to develop a strategic approach to improving the education of Roma children in the area.  The Commission undertook a series of assessments of the situation to provide an evidence base for its proposals.  The first was a professionally executed survey of the number and needs of Roma children in pre-school age groups in the sub-municipality of Krasna Poliana, which covers the district.  In the second stage, research was carried out in a cross-section of schools: three all-Roma, three all non-Roma, and three mixed in composition.  The results of this stage clearly showed that Roma children attending the integrated schools performed much better than those in segregated schools.  The data generated enabled an action plan for the discontinuation of segregated schooling to be drawn up based on clear evidence of need, scale and appropriate educational method.

The city of Subotica , in Serbia, has a very mixed population, which includes many refugees from the civil war, and also a substantial number of Roma many of whom are refugees from Kosovo.  Many have been without official identification and are illiterate and unemployed, and their children were not attending school.  In the neighbourhood where many of the Kosovo Roma live, the local self-government cooperated with a Roma NGO to establish a team to promote the inclusion of Roma children in the school system.  Within a year, 61% of the children of primary school age were attending school. The local government also took steps to gain broader community support for its initiatives by building a new road which would benefit Roma and non-Roma alike.  The city subsequently developed a Roma-specific component within its broader strategy for social inclusion, and is now a participant in the CoE’s Inter-Cultural Cities Programme (see separate box below).

(b) Employment

As already highlighted, unemployment and lack of education and marketable skills are the principal causes of poverty within the Roma community.  Promoting employment is essential for enabling Roma families to become economically self-sufficient and to overcome dependency on benefits.  Employment opportunities may include paid employment, self- employment and small business development, but skills development is also required for Roma to be able to take advantage of these. 

LRAs may have less ability to address this field than others, but there are still a number of important actions that they can take:

  i.    Work with local employers generally to encourage recruitment of Roma, including provision of ‘on-the-job’ training to develop occupational skills, and engage Roma mediators to assist with this.

 ii.    Set targets for Roma employment within the local authority’s own workforce, and introduce measures to promote recruitment and training for this purpose.

iii.    Establish initiatives to encourage and support self-employment and small business development, including provision for skills training and advice on business management, and with cooperation from local banks (eg. for advice on financial management and small loans).

iv.    Particularly promote and support the use of surviving Roma cultural activities and crafts, including music and the various traditional crafts practiced by women, as a basis for small business development.

 v.    Promote in schools, further education and other appropriate contexts, programmes for personal and professional development, especially for young people, to prepare them for employment and entry to the labour market.

vi.    Provide advice services for Roma, in cooperation with Roma NGOs, regarding local employment opportunities and how to access them, as well as about appropriate action to take in the case of discrimination.

In Spain, cities and regional governments are able to benefit from the activities of the ACCEDER Programme.  This Programme, which is implemented across the whole of the country by the Fundaciòn Secretariado Gitano (FSG),  draws on EU Structural Funds to implement programmes to promote employment primarily (though not exclusively) among the Roma population, through providing vocational training and developing direct links between job-seekers and employment providers. The Programme works in close partnership with city and regional administrations, and particularly with their departments dealing with social inclusion, welfare and employment.[44]

In Dublin in Ireland, a pilot project was undertaken to promote employment from within the Traveller community into the workforce of South Dublin City Council.  Using funds from a programme established by the national Training and Employment Authority (FAS), two initiatives were developed: the first to recruit and train young people aged 17-19 years to join teams within the City’s Parks Department, and the second to prepare young Travellers with appropriate educational skills for competitive entry into clerical officer posts. The success of both pilot projects led to the City Council extending them subsequently, and the FAS also expanded its programme to support similar local initiatives more widely across Ireland.[45]

In Nagykanisza, in Hungary, the Roma Self-Government has cooperated with the local Roma community association to develop a wide range of initiatives, especially in the field of employment.  The area has faced the closure of several major companies, and unemployment is particularly severe among Roma, who are predominantly unskilled.  Among the most substantial initiatives have been a small business development project, a farm management project, a skills training course for manufacture of wooden products (reflecting the fact that the local Beash Roma are traditionally wood workers), and a dressmaker training project that is specifically targeted at promoting the employment of Roma women. The success of these programmes, and of the Roma Self-Government in securing funding for them, has been especially due to the leadership provided by its former president, Laszlo Teleki, a fact that underlines the importance of strong leadership on Roma issues being provided at political level in LRAs.

(c) Health

The health situation of Roma has been identified as particularly disadvantaged in relation to the rest of the population.  To a substantial extent this is due to inter-related factors such as poverty, poor housing and residential segregation, and lack of education: actions to address these fields are itemised separately. However, there are a variety of important actions that LRAs can and need to take to help to ensure that Roma have access to social rights in the health field, including where appropriate by working in cooperation with local health agencies and Roma NGOs for this purpose:

  i.    Undertake surveys to identify the health situation and health needs of Roma in the local area, and assess the effectiveness of current service provision in relation to these.

 ii.    Take actions to ensure that Roma, especially in segregated settlements and travelling/migrant communities, have access to local health services, including by provision of outreach and mobile facilities, and by provision of interpreting services where necessary (particularly for migrant families).

iii.    Particularly ensure that health services reach women and children in the Roma community, and include preventive care, especially immunisation for young children.

iv.    Work with local health agencies to ensure that services are sensitive to Roma culture and circumstances and in general responsive to Roma health needs, and that local health professionals and other relevant staff receive awareness training on Roma health issues, with participation from the Roma community.

 v.    Take actions to ensure that health information (including preventive advice) is made available within the Roma community, and especially that it reaches women, using a variety of appropriate means including DVDs and personal visits/meetings, undertaken where appropriate in cooperation with local Roma community associations.

vi.    Engage specialist ‘Roma health mediators’ to assist with the above tasks, and provide them with appropriate training for their role.

Botosani, in Romania, was one of six cities which participated in pilot project to recruit and train ‘Roma health mediators’, who would act as a ‘bridge’ between Roma communities and the local health services. The initiative had the strong personal support of the Mayor, and gained excellent cooperation from local doctors and nurses.  The health mediator subsequently established a local Roma association to support and extend her ‘bridge-building work’, together with a small ‘women’s group’ (which included several non-Roma women) to work more directly with her on family matters. The success of this pilot project, which was initially developed by the NGO Romani CRISS, subsequently led to Roma health mediators being engaged to work at local level throughout Romania (and it also became the model for similar schemes being established in countries widely across Europe).  A national training programme was developed by Romani CRISS with the support of the Ministry of Health to ensure that all local health mediators had the necessary medical knowledge and personal skills to carry out their role, and win the trust and cooperation of both health professionals and the Roma community.[46]

(d)  Housing

In view of the severe disadvantages Roma face with regard to residence and accommodation in many states cross Europe, promoting social rights in relation to the field of housing is another major priority for action by LRAs.  By housing should be understood not merely the fabric of buildings, but also their occupancy levels, tenure, location, amenities and environment.  The field also includes provision of sites and facilities for Roma and Travellers who continue to follow a travelling life-style.  There is variation between member states in the extent to which LRAs have responsibilities in this field, though provision of social housing is widely administered at the local level. 

The main actions that LRAs should take in this field are as follows:

  i.    Assess the existing housing situation of Roma in their local area, and identify priorities for action.

 ii.    Develop strategies for ending Roma residential segregation, and enable Roma access to housing generally across the local area so as to facilitate social inclusion.

iii.    Ensure that neighbourhoods where Roma reside have all basic amenities, including fresh water, drainage, gas, electricity, refuse collection, and paved roads.

iv.    Undertake projects to replace, or improve the quality of, existing housing occupied by Roma families where this is sub-standard, including by employing Roma to work on such projects and by equipping them with occupational skills.

 v.    Make available suitable sites for residence by families who continue to follow a travelling life-style, with basic amenities and effective site management, and ensure consultation with settled residents in the local area to address any concerns and promote social cohesion.

vi.    Regularise the tenure of Roma in their homes or on sites where this has not been properly legalised, take all steps possible to avoid forced evictions, and arrange agreed alternative accommodation of appropriate standard wherever necessary.

vii.    Undertake the above tasks in an integrated manner rather than in isolation from each other, and so far as possible within a framework for neighbourhood regeneration generally.

viii.    In the case of migrant Roma, provide advice and assistance to ensure access to adequate accommodation, making direct provision on an interim basis where necessary.

ix.    Work on housing issues in close cooperation with other relevant agencies and with local Roma associations and members of the communities directly affected by the work.

 x.    Seek and secure funding for housing and urban regeneration projects from appropriate sources, including national budgets, EU structural funds,[47] and the Council of Europe Development Bank.

The Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) is a multilateral development bank comprising 40 Member States.  Its main objective is to promote social cohesion, and its priority is to finance projects in favour of refugees, migrants and minorities – among whom Roma are identified as a key group.  The Bank’s policy is to support governments and local authorities in their efforts to foster Roma inclusion by means of medium/long-term investment loans on favourable terms, particularly in the education, housing, health and job creation sectors. For this purpose the Bank cooperates closely with other CoE bodies and international agencies, and was a co-founder of the Roma Decade programme.  Beneficiary cities of the Bank’s services have included Madrid, Sofia and Plovdiv, as well as municipalities and regions in the Western Balkans. (

In Brno in the Czech Republic, an initiative was established to renovate a block of older housing occupied  by Roma families close to the city centre. The City Council worked jointly with the NGO SPOLU (now Horizonty) and the local Roma Community centre to do this in a way that would not require the families to move out, and would be constructive for the residents, many of whom were unemployed and were in debt to the city for unpaid rent.  Tenants were therefore engaged to work on the project, so that they could pay off their debts and negotiate valid leases, as well as gain occupational skills and experience. Regular meetings were held with the tenants during the process, to explain the project, monitor how it was progressing, and respond to any problems arising.

Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve is a small town in the heart of Brabant Province in Belgium.  Although there are no settled Roma or Travellers in the area, ‘gens du voyage’ travel to the region for seasonal work during the summer.  There is no official requirement to provide sites, nor official framework for addressing the needs of this group or dealing with tensions in relations with the wider community.  However, while other municipalities in the region try to turn the travellers away, the commune of Ottignies decided to manage this situation in a positive way and have been welcoming them since 2003.  They have done this by providing a site for their caravans (in a residential area, with provision of water, electricity and refuse collection), by undertaking mediation work with local residents, and by organising meetings, meals together and cultural activities to raise mutual awareness and improve relations.  A civic official has responsibility for organising these activities, and funding was initially obtained from the national ‘Centre pour l’Egalité des Chances’, though it is now provided by the regional government.

In Avilés in Spain, the city set out in the 1990s to eradicate the segregated settlements (‘bidonvilles’) in which many Roma (Gitanos) were living.  Its initial plan to move families from one of the settlements to housing on a new site proved unsuccessful, as it was isolated, lacking in amenities, and faced opposition from other local residents.  A revised plan was subsequently introduced in 2000 in cooperation with Roma NGOs and a team of experts and representatives from other agencies, which involved relocating families in existing housing around the city.  Initiatives were developed to provide support for the families in fields such as education, health and employment, as well as to support their social inclusion generally.  This alternative integrated approach proved successful, and the city has subsequently used it in eliminating the other bidonvilles inhabited by Roma, with funding provided jointly by the city, the region and central government.[48]


Having reaffirmed its commitment to address Roma issues within the context of the Strasbourg Declaration, the Congress now needs to develop its own strategy for encouraging and supporting LRAs to proceed with undertaking the actions that have been set out above.  This strategy will need to be given authority and direction by a new resolution of the Congress, specifically setting out its renewed commitment in the current context as described above, and indicating the role of LRAs in promoting Roma inclusion (again as set out above) together with the actions to be taken by the Congress to support LRAs in this task.  The Congress has already announced that it will convene a Summit of Mayors in September 2011 to give a lead to this work and define its parameters.

In addition to the Summit of Mayors and the new resolution, the Congress should also take the following actions to support LRAs in their role:

a)     Continue to study aspects of the situation of Roma, and prepare reports and recommendations, especially on specific themes.

b)    Further develop inter-secretariat cooperation with other relevant CoE bodies, including to provide information to LRAs on their human & minority rights responsibilities relating to Roma under international law and policy (including relevant judgments of the European Court of Human Rights).

c)     Establish a new pan-European cooperation framework or ‘association’ of LRAs, to exchange experience and to encourage transnational cooperation and joint working on Roma issues, and which would particularly reach out to LRAs which need to address Roma issues but have not yet done so (see box below).

d)    Identify and disseminate examples of good practice, including by the following means:

·         Support the establishment (in cooperation with the SRSG’s office and the new association) of a data-base of practical examples that can be accessed by LRAs for this purpose

·         Maintain and further develop the ‘Dosta!-Congress Prize’ scheme, as a means of identifying, rewarding and publicising good practice.

e)     Support (again in cooperation with SRSG’s office and the new association) specific actions that LRAs will need to take as key components of a strategic approach, including the following:

·         Develop a model methodology for LRAs to use for mapping the local situation of Roma in their area, and for making an assessment of current responses/provision.

·         Develop a model leaflet for LRAs to use/adapt for ‘myth-busting’ and providing accurate information regarding Roma.

·         Encourage and facilitate use by LRAs of the CoE’s Roma Mediator Programme (ROMED).

·         Develop training programmes for mayors, councillors and senior officials on Roma issues, and provide ‘training the trainers’ courses to support their delivery (see box below).[49]

·         Encourage the development of expertise, together with a means of making this available to LRAs directly for advice and support (and, for the longer term, encourage the undertaking of research on policy and practice issues relating to Roma inclusion at the local level).

f)     Promote (through the CoE, EU and other relevant bodies) the inclusion within national-level Roma strategies of specific requirements for LRAs to address the local level effectively, and identify and promote the actions that should be taken by national governments to support LRAs to undertake this role.

g)    Cooperate with other CoE bodies and initiatives (eg. SRSG, ECRI, Intercultural Cities), and with EU (especially the Committee of the Regions) and other European-level agencies (including LRA associations), particularly in order to:

·         Secure support for and assistance in implementing the operation of the new pan-European association

·         Promote the mainstreaming of Roma issues into all local-level action (including into other programmes of the Congress itself)

h)     Work in consultation and partnership with Roma associations in undertaking all of the above activities, and organise workshops and other relevant activities for Roma NGOs to brief them on the Congress’s initiatives, and to promote capacity-building for them to work as partners specifically at local and regional levels.

The form that the cooperation framework should take has been outlined in a separate concept paper.[50]  It is proposed that a Pan-European Association of LRAs working on Roma issues should be established, with the involvement also of Roma associations, and with other relevant international bodies as associate members or observers.  This new body would build on work already undertaken by LRAs, as well as by regional and national networks of cities working on Roma issues. The objective would be to bring LRAs together from across Europe to share experience, identify and promote good practice, monitor progress, establish a common data-base, coordinate actions and seek funding to support joint initiatives, so as to strengthen their capacity both to develop integrated strategies at the local level and to work on specific themes. The association would be led by a pan-European steering group of Mayors, and given executive direction by a ‘task force’ of representatives of leading cities working on these issues, with the support of a dedicated secretariat. The precise format for the new body will need to be agreed at the forthcoming Summit of Mayors.

Training programmes for mayors, councillors and senior officials should be focused on awareness-raising and the specific actions that politicians and senior officials need to take.  These should include: expressing commitment and vision, and countering negative myths and stereotypes; building trust and cooperation with local Roma leaders; establishing structures for developing and implementing local strategies; sources of funding for projects and initiatives; and how to benefit from the services provided by the CoE (especially through the proposed cooperation framework and the ROMED Programme).

In the UK, the need to address the situation of recent Roma migrant communities in cities, and especially that of migrant children in schools, has become increasingly apparent in recent years. The Government’s Department for Children, Schools and Families, which already supports a range of programmes for integration of established Gypsy and Traveller communities at the local level, therefore commissioned a mapping survey of the situation, with case-studies in a variety of local authority areas.  Addressing migrant Roma issues has now become an integral part of the work of local ‘Traveller Education Services’, and the NGO which carried out the study has produced a number of publications aimed at local policy-makers and practitioners, including a ‘Strategic Guide for Directors and Senior Managers in Local Authorities’.[51]

The Council of Europe’s Inter-Cultural Cities Programme (ICC) is an example of a more broadly-based inter-governmental programme focusing on the local and regional level, with which cooperation could be very beneficial.  The programme works with cities across Europe to help them to develop an ‘intercultural’ approach to the integration of different ethnic groups, which emphasises the dynamic involvement of all groups in building a socially, culturally and economically vibrant city, within which all groups have a stake and all can benefit.  This vision and approach which would involve addressing Roma issues within a broader multi-ethnic framework could bring important advantages as compared with a narrow focus on Roma issues in isolation.  To date the ICC has not addressed Roma issues in any systematic manner, but cooperation in doing so could strengthen the work of both the ICC and the Congress.


For Local and Regional Authorities

1. All LRAs should regularly monitor the numbers and situation of Roma in their geographical area of responsibility, identify specific needs and problems, and develop and implement policies and strategies in response to these in order to promote Roma inclusion in accordance with international human rights standards and with regard to relevant Congress resolutions.

2. LRAs should identify and implement measures to combat anti-Gypsyism among the local population, especially in the form of hate speech, discrimination and racially-motivated violence, and should take special care to avoid any such manifestations in their own pronouncements and activities.

3. When responding to the local situation of Roma, LRAs should recognise the inter-connected nature of its various dimensions and problems, and promote a coordinated multi-agency response, within which particular priority should be attached to promoting education for Roma children on account of its long-term impact.

4. In all their actions to address the situation of Roma, LRAs should work in consultation and cooperation with Roma communities, and actively promote Roma participation in all fields of activity.

5. LRAs should work in close cooperation with national governments in ensuring that national strategies are implemented effectively at the local level, and that appropriate resources are made available for this purpose.

6. LRAs should establish networks at local, regional and/or national levels to share experience and undertake joint initiatives to promote Roma inclusion.

For National Governments

1. Consider recognising Roma as a ‘national minority’ (where this has not yet been done), in order to ensure that Roma have protection under international law (and in particular the Framework Convention on National Minorities), especially as regards their access to rights at the local level.

2.  Having regard particularly to the relevant Recommendations of the Committee of Ministers, ensure that national strategies on Roma issues incorporate appropriate provision for effective implementation at the local level, including:

(a)   by ensuring that LRAs have the necessary powers and responsibilities to undertake this task and that they have access to sufficient resources and expert support, and

(b)   by establishing mechanisms to monitor the response by LRAs and to apply sanctions if LRAs fail to cooperate.[52]

3.  Establish appropriate frameworks for cooperation between central government and LRAs on activities to promote Roma inclusion.

For the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities

1. Promote an effective response to the situation of Roma by LRAs by means of Resolutions and Recommendations of Congress in response to the Strasbourg Declaration, together with a Declaration to be adopted by the forthcoming Summit of Mayors.

2. Establish a pan-European framework of cooperation between LRAs, building on such networks as already exist, in order to share experience, identify and promote good practice, and facilitate joint working; and with a programme designed to focus particularly on three broad areas:

3. Introduce, or encourage the introduction of, a range of other practical measures to support the implementation of relevant Congress resolutions (e.g. developing guidance, establishing a data-base, providing training, setting standards and making awards), where appropriate in partnership with other CoE bodies, European organisations and Roma associations.

4. Support the development of a strategy to ensure that sufficient funding will be available from appropriate sources from inside and outside the Council of Europe to sustain the cooperation framework and other initiatives.

5. Coordinate its activities focusing on the local and regional level with those of parallel EU bodies (especially the Committee of the Regions) and of other agencies and programmes working at this level transnationally across Europe.

[1] The term “Roma” used throughout the present text refers to Roma, Sinti, Kale and related groups in Europe, including Travellers and the Eastern groups (Dom and Lom), and covers the wide diversity of groups concerned, including groups which identify themselves as “Gypsies”.

[2] See below for further discussion of the category ‘Roma’.  The single word ‘Roma’ will be used subsequently throughout this paper for the purpose of brevity.

[3] For a fuller account of these activities, see the Introductory Memorandum on ‘The Situation of Roma in Europe and Relevant Activities of the Council of Europe’ (2008) prepared by Joszef Berenyi for the Parliamentary Assembly.

[4] Declaration and Action Plan of the Third Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe adopted at the Warsaw Summit (CM(2005)80, 17 May 2005)

[5] Recommendations (2000)4 & (2009)4 on education, (2001)17 on economic situation and employment, (2004)14 on movement and encampment, (2005)4 on housing, (2006)10 on health, and (2008)5 on policies generally.

[6] ECRI, General Policy Recommendation No 3: Combating Racism and Intolerance against Roma/Gypsies (1998); and Practical Examples in Combating Racism and Intolerance against Roma/Gypsies (2001). 

[8] The term ‘mediator’ in this context refers specifically to the task of promoting communication and cooperation between two parties, and stimulating each of them to take responsibilities and become involved in a change process.  A mediator is therefore impartial, and should be distinguished clearly from a community activist and from an adviser or liaison officer engaged by a local authority.  On the other hand, a mediator is more than just an ‘intermediary’, on account of his/her active role as a change agent.  Such a mediator, of course, should also be clearly distinguished from the idea of a professional mediator who engages in conflict resolution.

[9] See especially para.44

[10] Eg. Nadir Redzepi & Alexandra Bojadzieva, Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015: Institutional Set-Up, Roma Democratic Development Agency SONCE, 2009, and in a variety of monitoring reports produced by bodies such as the EU, OSCE and the Open Society Institute.

[11] Statement to the Congress by Mr Jeroen Schokkenbroek, 22 March 2011.  The role of towns and cities, and thus of the Congress, has also been highlighted in the recent report of the Group of Eminent Persons of the CoE, Living Together: Combining Diversity and Freedom in 21st-century Europe (May 2011), which identifies Roma inclusion as one of the key challenges for member states.

[12] Education of Roma Children in Europe: Texts and activities of the Council of Europe concerning education, Council of Europe Publishing, 2006, pp 106-111

[13] Resolutions 125 (1981), 249 (1993), 16 (1995), 44 (1997)

[14] The “Roma Rights and Access to Justice in Europe” Programme (RrAJE), which ran from 2000-2004.

 For a summary see “Promoting Roma Integration at the Local Level”, Equal Voices (Quarterly Magazine

 of EU Monitoring Centre on Racism & Xenophobia,, now FRA) No. 16, June 2005, pp. 28-33.  For a fuller

account see Promoting Roma Integration at the Local Level: Guidance Manual based on the RrAJE

Programme, European Dialogue, London, April 2005,

[15] E.g. in the ‘Berenyi Report’: The Situation of Roma in Europe and Relevant Activities of the Council of Europe, Report prepared for the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly (Rapporteur, Jozsef Berenyi), 2010.  For further detail, see also, inter alia, the Status Report on the Implementation of the Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE Area, OSCE/ODIHR, 2008, and the series of Country Reports of ECRI. For a more general outline of the situation of Roma, see Jean-Pierre Liégeois, Roma in Europe, Council of Europe Publishing, 2007.

[16] The term “Roma” used throughout 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” (Strasbourg Declaration).

[17] Rudko Kawczynski, interview 20.04.2011, on Congress website.  Such anti-Gypsyism must also be expected to be embedded to varying degrees in the functioning of institutions, including in governmental bodies at all levels, although often in subtle or indirect rather than overt ways: see Robin Oakley, "Institutional Racism: Lessons from the UK",  Roma Rights (Journal of the European Roma Rights Centre), No.4, 2000

[18] Eurobarometer surveys, 2006/2008

[19] European Roma Rights Centre, Imperfect Justice: Anti-Roma Violence and Impunity, 2011

[20] FRA, Annual Report 2010, p.40

[21] Amnesty International, Parallel Lives: Roma Denied Rights to Housing and Water in Slovenia, 2011

[22] Berenyi Report, para.33

[23] Housing Conditions of Roma and Travellers in the European Union: Comparative Report, FRA, 2009: findings as summarised in FRA, Annual Report, 2010, p.62. 

[24] Claude Cahn & Elspeth Gould, Recent Migration of Roma in Europe, OSCE Commissioner for Human Rights, 2008 (2nd edition 2010); EU Fundamental Rights Agency, The Situation of Roma EU Citizens Moving to and Settling in Other EU Member States, FRA, 2009.  For an example of a study undertaken at the national level, with case-studies of the situation in local municipalities, see Lucie Fremlova, The Movement of Roma from New EU Member States: A Mapping Survey of A2 and A8 Roma in England, European Dialogue, 2009.

[25] “Hard Times for Roma: Economics, Politics and Violence”, Roma Rights (Journal of the European Roma Rights Centre) No.1, 2009

[26] All reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institution of 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.

[27] Rudko Kawczynski, “Alienated Roma Youth are Ready to Explode” (2011):

[28] Robert Rustem, “Why Martin Luther King Matters to Europe’s Roma” (2011):

[29] Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE Area, 2003; and OSCE Status Report on the Implementation of the Action Plan on the Situation of Roma and Sinti, 2008

[30] Nadir Redzepi & Alexandra Bojadzieva, Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015: Institutional Set-Up, Roma Democratic Development Agency SONCE, 2009, p.8.

[31] World Bank, Roma in an Expanding Europe: Breaking the Poverty Cycle, 2005

[32] World Bank, ‘Roma Inclusion: An Economic Opportunity for Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Romania and Serbia’, September 2010

[33] UNDP, Avoiding the Dependency Trap: the Roma in Central and Eastern Europe, 2002, and further subsequent reports.

[34] The OSI Local Government and Public Service Reform Initiative has recently introduced a new project, ‘Making the Most of EU Funding for the Roma’, designed to help EU structural funds ‘flow’ to local governments and civil society, including by providing technical support and offering pre-financing to smaller/poorer municipalities.

[35] Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on ‘The Social and Economic Integration of the Roma in Europe’ (2011)

[36] In conformity with the Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation Rec(2008)5 on policies for Roma.

[37] This list of key actions draws particularly on the experience of the transnational RrAJE Programme (see box in main text below).   A more recent transnational project promoting this type of strategic approach at city level, which is currently in process of implementation, is the URBACT Roma-Net project (

[38] See the ‘Baseline Report’ for the Roma-Net project for examples of ‘local mapping’ in partner cities, and a brief outline of the methodology on which these are based.

[39] For example, Resolution 280 (2009) and Recommendation 261 (2009) on intercultural cities; Resolution 281 (2009) and Recommendation 262 (2009) on equality and diversity in local authority employment and service provision; Resolution 323 and Recommendation 304 (2011) on meeting the challenge of inter-faith and intercultural tensions at local level.  Other Resolutions in fields such as youth (eg. Resolution 319 (2010) on ‘Young People in Local and Regional Life’) may also be relevant.

[40] OSCE/ODIHR, Police and Roma and Sinti: Good Practices in Building Trust and Understanding, SPMU Publication Series Vol.9, 2010 (esp. ch.III.5).  Also useful as guidance documents are the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities’ Recommendations on Policing in Multi-Ethnic Societies (2008), and ECRI’s Policy Recommendation No 11, Combating Racism and Racial Discrimination in Policing (2007), which particularly highlights the need to avoid ‘ethnic profiling’.

[41] For example, through activities within the framework of the European Local Democracy Week.

[42] See also the Committee of Ministers’ Recommendations for each of these fields, referred to above.

[43] The common goal in education set for member states in the new EU Framework Strategy (see above).  A valuable source for further guidance, information and resources for LRAs is the CoE’s ‘Education of Roma Children’ project (2002-2009):

[44] For further information, see the website of FSG:

[45] Opening Pathways to Employment for Travellers in South Dublin City Council, Dublin Employment Pact, 2007

[46] Mariana Buceanu, Health Mediator Guide, Romani CRISS, 2002 (in Romanian and English).

[47] EURoma, the ‘European Network on Social; Inclusion and Roma under the Structural Funds’, is currently preparing a “Guide for Local Authorities on the Use of Structural Funds for the Social Inclusion of the Roma Population”.

[48] “Programme Municipal pour l’Eradication des Bidonvilles à Avilés”, presentation by Pilar Varela Diaz, Mayor of Avilés, 20th Session of Congress, Strasbourg 22 March 2011.

[49] Eg. in cooperation with ENTO, the European network of local and regional authority training establishments from almost all of the CoE’s member states.

[50] This concept paper has been prepared by the consultant and is available from the Congress Secretariat.

[51] ‘New Roma Communities in England: A Strategic Guide for Directors and Senior Managers in Local Authorities’, European Dialogue, 2009

[52] As recommended in the Berenyi Report, paragraph 15.4.