Challenges and opportunities for Roma inclusion

Challenges and opportunities in coordinating central and local efforts for Roma inclusion

Venue: European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Rue Belliard 99, 1040 BrusselsRoom JDE63
Date: 9 April 2024
Time: 16:15-17:30
Format: Online/In-person

Organiser: Joint event – European Commission and Council of Europe
Online recording: Here

In recent years, there have been significant developments in European and national policies for the social inclusion of Roma[1] communities. The EU Roma Strategic Framework for Equality, Inclusion and Participation emphasizes a three-pillar approach, aligning with ongoing efforts to socio-economically include Roma while promoting equality and participation, particularly in public services and public life. Awareness has been raised about policy measures at the local level being decisive in improving the lives of people across key areas of education, housing, employment, health, civil documentation, and combating discrimination and antigypsyism. This has also been recognized by the Council of Europe in its Strategic Action Plan for Roma and Traveller Inclusion (2020 – 2025).

While Member States are responsible for elaborating domestic Roma inclusion strategies, local authorities play a crucial role in their implementation on the ground. The local level is where exclusion is most visible and concrete action for including marginalized communities is needed. However, a major challenge for the effective implementation of Roma inclusion policies adopted at the European and national level is represented by the considerable gap in understanding, capacities, and political commitment at the local level. Addressing Roma inclusion consistently and effectively at the local level implies the allocation of resources and real engagement of authorities, as well as investment in the capacity of Roma communities to be active participants and equal partners in local democratic processes.

Sustained cooperation needs to be developed between the Roma communities and institutions and between the Roma and non-Roma. Facilitation is needed to ensure a real understanding of the issues the local communities are facing but also of the solutions needed while emphasising positive models that can change perceptions of the majority regarding Roma as a problem rather than a key resource for change and opportunity for local development.

Through the implementation of the Joint European Commission and Council of Europe Programs like ROMACTED – “Promoting good governance and Roma empowerment at the local level” (since 2017), and the Third Phase of “Roma Integration” (since 2023), efforts are made towards building capacities to develop policies and public services that are inclusive of all, including the Roma, and strengthening exchanges of good practices at both local and central levels. The work with the Roma communities in the region, with local authorities and other local and national stakeholders, can support the synchronization of the top-down and bottom-up approaches for advancing Roma inclusion in the Western Balkans and Türkiye.

[1] The term “Roma and Travellers” is used at the Council of Europe to encompass the wide diversity of the groups covered by the work of the Council of Europe in this field: on the one hand a) Roma, Sinti/Manush, Calé, Kaale, Romanichals, Boyash/Rudari; b) Balkan Egyptians (Egyptians and Ashkali); c) Eastern groups (Dom, Lom and Abdal); and, on the other hand, groups such as Travellers, Yenish, and the populations designated under the administrative term “Gens du voyage”, as well as persons who identify themselves as Gypsies. The present is an explanatory footnote, not a definition of Roma and/or Travellers.


The panel will discuss advancements and setbacks in implementing commitments on human rights and Roma inclusion policies at the central and local levels. It will analyse the coherence of working channels, targeted advocacy, and technical capacities to achieve the needed change in the field. Lessons learned in implementing European Commission and Council of Europe joint initiatives and prerequisites for impact will be brought forward. Adjustments in approaches and practices will be explored to inform future actions.

16:15 – 16:20    Introduction

Moderator: Cristina Marian, Project Manager, Council of Europe – European Commission Joint Project Roma Integration III

16:20 – 16:30    Progress on Roma integration through the European Policy Framework

  • Marta Garcia Fidalgo, European Commission, DG NEAR, Roma Policy Advisor

16:30 – 16:40     Council of Europe standards and initiatives contributing to Roma rights, and synergies at national and local level

  • Eleni Tsetsekou, Council of Europe, Head of the Roma and Travellers Division

16:40 – 16:55     Stakeholders coordination – from policy to practice – for improving the situation of Roma communities

  • Habit Hajredini, National Roma Contact Point, Director of the Office for Good Governance, Human Rights, Equal Opportunities and Anti-Discrimination, Office of the Prime Minister of Kosovo*

16:55 – 17:10     Responsibilities and challenges of local authorities in implementing the plans for Roma inclusion

  • Ljubiša Petrović, Mayor of Municipality City of Bijeljina, partner municipality in ROMACTED Programme, Bosnia and Herzegovina

17:10 – 17:20     Community empowerment and prerequisites for meaningful participation

  • Gjulten Mustafova, Council of Europe, Project Officer ROMACTED Programme, North Macedonia

17:20 – 17:30 Questions & Answers

19:30 – 22:00  Dinner, Kif Kif Restaurant, Square De Biarritz 1, B-1050 Brussels (*Food is served both Halal for Muslims celebrating Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan and regular food for non-Muslims).

See some menu options here:

                             Please register for the dinner – so that we can calculate the number of menus correctly – HERE

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.