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Robbing the Roma

BUDAPEST – A year and a half has passed since the European Commission adopted the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020, which calls upon European Union governments to create comprehensive plans aimed at strengthening social inclusion and improving the well-being of their Romani citizens. The European Council endorsed the framework soon after. But, despite good intentions, little has changed.

In fact, the Roma’s suffering has increased as a result of the euro crisis, and intolerance has intensified, especially in the countries with the largest Romani populations – Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Greece. Despite the European Commission’s call for member states to apply more EU funds to programs aimed at integrating Roma before the close of the 2007-2013 EU budget period, none of these six countries has done so. Some of them – such as Bulgaria and Romania – are among the most laggard spenders of EU funds, particularly resources from the European Social Fund.