Roma exclusion: chances for European solutions

14  June 2012    4:00 pm CEST

Kálmán Mizsei, Co-Chairman of the Roma Policy Board and Chairman of the Board of the Making the Most of EU Funds for Roma Inclusion, Open Society Institute, Budapest


wiiw, Rahlgasse 3, 1060 Vienna, lecture hall (entrance from the ground floor)


In the last two years the problem of extreme exclusion of Roma from European societies has become what it deserves to be: a European (Europeanized) problem. Paradoxically, ex-President Sarkozy's theatrical clamp down on illegal Roma and their expulsion, with the aim of placating the far right voters in France, was the main trigger, although already in 2009 the European Commission produced a promising Communication. What followed was a call for a Europe-wide Roma Strategy. Commissioner Reading did not venture that far but spearheaded a process culminating in a European Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies in April 2011. Since then a Council Conclusion underlined the importance of policy efforts to lift Roma out of abject poverty and deep, degrading social exclusion. National reactions, however, have been deeply disappointing. None of the National Roma Strategies, as submitted by the end of 2011 are up to the challenge. None of these strategies can possibly be the basis for realistic visible changes. The policy of platitudes to placate the European audience but no real action in fear of losing domestic electorate, has continued unabated. The mechanisms of interaction between the European institutions and the new memberstates with large proportion of Roma on one hand, and the Western Balkan enlargement candidates on the other, are different. Thus the possible outcomes may also be different. Moreover, the policy efforts are progressing against the background of rising radical right populism, often with explicit racist content. The lecture aims to assess the expected impact of the national strategies. It will confront them with the reality on the ground. And it will show areas where not only solutions have not yet been offered but where our own intellectual gaps are also an obstacle, such as an insufficient understanding of how public policy can steer the dynamics between a rather hostile majority and marginalized and disenfranchised minority.