MG-S-ROM (2005) 8 addendum
GROUP OF SPECIALISTS ON ROMA, GYPSIES AND TRAVELLERS
Council of Europe, Strasbourg
7-8 April 2005
FULL MEETING REPORT
I. ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA AND LIST OF DECISIONS OF PREVIOUS MEETING
a) The Chair, Mr. Mirga (Poland), opened the 19th meeting of the Group and welcomed participants, including newly appointed Specialists from Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden. He also welcomed invited representatives from “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, the UK Travellers, the European Roma and Travellers Forum, as well as consultants. He welcomed the presence of international organisations/institutions (European Commission DG Employment, EUMC, OSCE-ODIHR, UNHCR), as well as the participation of non-governmental international organisations (ERRC, ERTF, OSI and PER).
In the absence of the Vice-Chair (Mr. Marta, Italy) the Group designated Mr. Samo Drobež (Slovenia) to replace Mr. Marta as Vice-Chair for the duration of the meeting.
b) The Group adopted the annotated agenda [MG-S-ROM (2005)2] and the report of the eighteenth meeting [MG-S-ROM (2004)16] with the slight correction proposed by Mr. Lauri Sivonen from the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner as regards his presentation at the last meeting in Slovakia.
II. RECENT DEVELOPMENTS AND UPCOMING ACTIVITIES IN THE FIELD OF ROMA AND TRAVELLERS [written contributions distributed in the meeting room]
a) The Secretariat of the Roma and Travellers Division informed the Group about the recent adoption by the Committee of Ministers of two Council of Europe Roma and Travellers-related recommendations drafted by the Group, i.e. Recommendation (2004)14 on the Movement and Encampment of Travellers in Europe, and Recommendation (2005)4 on Improving the Housing Conditions for Roma and Travellers in Europe. These recommendations are both available in Romani in addition to the official languages of the Council of Europe.
The Secretariat also announced upcoming events/activities, including a Regional Conference on Roma Access to Employment to be held in Skopje end of April (as part of the joint EC/CoE/OSCE-ODIHR Project on Roma in South East Europe), a Round table on Improving the Socio-Economic Conditions of Roma in Buzău county, Romania (May), the 9th Training Session for Lawyers on Legal Assistance to Roma and a presentation of the Collective Complaints Mechanism of the revised Social Charter (Strasbourg, 30-31 May- 1 June). The Secretariat also informed the Group about a recent seminar held in Croatia at the invitation of Mrs. Klajner, Head of the Office for National Minorities, on the monitoring of the implementation of the National Programme for Roma.
b) Mrs. Tove Skotvedt (Norway) informed the Group about the follow-up given to the report “Young Roma and Alternatives to Migration” presented at the last meeting. She informed the Group that Norway would invite FERYP and ERTF-representative Alexandra Raykova to Norway in June 2005 to present the work of FERYP, as well as the report from the seminar “Roma Youth and Alternatives to Migration” that had been sponsored by Norway during the Norwegian chairmanship of the Council of Europe (May – October 2005). Mrs Raykova would also inform Roma and Traveller communities in Norway about the European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF) and the selection procedures to participate in the Forum. She informed the Group that the inter-ministerial working group between Sweden, Finland and Norway for exchange of information and good practices concerning national minorities, including Roma and Romani people, would meet in Sweden on 13-14 April.
c) Mrs. Alexandra Raykova (FERYP) informed the Group about the celebration of the ten-year anniversary of the RAXI campaign to be organised by FERYP and the Youth Directorate in Strasbourg on 5-12 June. She invited members of the MG-S-ROM to attend this event1. She also drew attention of the Group about certain conclusions of the report from the Seminar “Roma Youth and Alternatives to Migration”, which were addressed to the MG-S-ROM. This report would soon be available in French and Romani. It would be addressed to the European Roma and Travellers Forum. Mrs. Raykova also indicated that FERYP responded to a call for a proposal to follow-up that report, publishing inter alia information leaflets on legal and illegal migration.
d) Mrs. Eleni Tsetsekou from the Secretariat informed the Group about a recent meeting in Sweden (17 February) related to a proposed Conference concerning Romani women, which might address trafficking of Roma women and children2. She referred to the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings; which was opened for signature. She also reminded the Group about the internship for young Roma at the Council of Europe, financially supported by Open Society Institute (OSI), and encouraged members of the Group to inform young Roma in their respective countries about that possibility. Mrs. Miranda Vuolasranta, Council of Europe Special Adviser on Roma, summarized recent developments concerning a Roma Education project aimed at developing teaching materials in the Romani language, which is co-ordinated by DG4 Education Directorate.
e) Mr. Henry Scicluna, Council of Europe Co-ordinator for Activities concerning Roma and Travellers, presented the conclusions of the Internal Co-ordination Group meeting between Council of Europe sectors dealing with Roma and Travellers issues, and informed the Group about a proposal to have a conference on Anti-Gypsyism in Autumn 2005 jointly with the OSCE-ODIHR and other partners3. He said that there were signals here and there about growing Anti-Gypsyism phenomena and that this issue required more attention and better coordination at international level. He suggested that the MG-S-ROM could make a declaration on Anti-Gypsysism for the Committee of Ministers.
As regards coordination, the Coordinator reminded the meetings of the Informal Contact Group between International Organisations (OSCE-ODIHR, European Commission, Council of Europe, recently opened to the World Bank, United Nations, etc.) that were organised under the Dutch EU Presidency. Topics considered of particular importance were: education and in particular desegregation issues, as well as the situation of Roma refugees and IDPs. He also referred to his position as Council of Europe Coordinator and that he felt that such a post should become permanent.
In response to Mr. Scicluna’s presentation, the Chair, Mr. Mirga (Poland), reminded that discrimination and violence against Romani communities were the first topics discussed at MG-S-ROM level. The Group’s memorandum on these issues was a basis for the ECRI recommendation No. 3 from 1998. Mr. Mirga and Mr. Gheorghe (OSCE-ODIHR) were participating at ECRI’s meetings when this recommendation was under debate. They tried to introduce the concept of Anti-Gypsyism into the text of the recommendation; however, there was no agreement among the governments at that time. He said that this might rather be a topic for the European Roma and Travellers Forum rather than for the MG-S-ROM.
As concerns the post of Coordinator, Mr. Mirga recalled that there were several proposals made in the past to establish a special post like ombudsperson for Roma minorities at the Council of Europe but the Committee of Ministers kept negative standpoint to it. Mr. Mirga was positive as regard the Coordinator position and especially the need for coordination between international structures to avoid duplication.
As concerns the Informal Contact Group, Mr. Mirga regretted that MG-S-ROM was not invited to such meetings. Mr. Jorna (the Netherlands) responded that there were structures for actions and policy-making and others for coordination. The Informal Contact Group was rather aimed at coordinating efforts between international organisations secretariats. It was not relevant for MG-S-ROM to participate, since the Group contributed to policy-making. In addition, the Informal Contact Group had to remain small to be efficient. Responding to this remark Mr. Mirga recalled that the mandate of the MG-S-ROM contained also a point which refered to its task to keep under review policies and programmes dealing with Roma; therefore participation of the Group in such meetings was legitimate. He also reminded the Group that the MG-S-ROM used to be represented in such meetings, but this was not the case anymore.
f) Other sectors of the Council of Europe and international institutions/organisations addressed the MG-S-ROM.
A document [MG-S-ROM (2005)12] was circulated. It comprised information about monitoring reports or countries recently visited by the ECRI, the Commissioner for Human Rights, the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities or the Experts Committee of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
Mrs. Isil Gachet from ECRI reminded the entry into force of Protocol 12 as from 1 April, which would widen the scope of Article 14 (Prohibition of Discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights. She also referred to a recent ECRI Seminar on ethnic data collection and its relevance for Roma. She said that ECRI was also paying much attention to racist political discourse. She insisted that Anti-Gypsyism was covered by the work of ECRI and was in its mandate to fight against racism and racial discrimination. ECRI also provided an independent monitoring in the field of human rights. Mrs. Gachet mentioned also that ECRI started the third cycle of reports. ECRI’s reports addressed the situation of Roma or Travellers in 32 member states. In ten of these reports, the situation of Roma was of particular concern, and this concerned both Eastern and Western European countries. Recent reports concerning Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and Turkey were all pointing out problems with Roma. She invited the Group to read these reports.
Mrs. Eva Sobotka, from the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), reminded the Group about the work carried out by EUMC in the field of Roma and Travellers and recalled EUMC’s special interest in data collection research, especially as regards Roma policies, in gender issues (EUMC supported meetings of the International Romani Women’s Network - IRWN), as well as in health issues (with a specific focus on trafficking of organs, reproductive rights, and health situation of Roma and Travellers). She said that EUMC would publish a Comparative Analysis of Public Education in 25 EU member states in October.
Mr. Dan Doghi from OSCE-ODIHR reminded the Group about the adoption of the OSCE Action Plan for the Improvement of the Situation of Roma and Sinti in Europe and reports received from member states as regards its implementation. He informed the Group about the continuation of the Project “Roma, Use your ballots wisely” in South East Europe (joint project with the European Commission) and about the proposed Conference in Warsaw on the Implementation of Policies for Roma (see above and footnote 3).
Mr. Samuel Boutruche from UNHCR Office in Strasbourg invited the Group to look at the UNHCR Position on the Continued International Protection Needs of Individuals from Kosovo published in March 2005. He mentioned some incidents where Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians were the victims. He reminded that the return to Kosovo, limited to Ashkali and Egyptians (not Roma), should be done on a voluntary basis and organised in close consultation with UNMIK.
Mrs. Livia Plaks, President of Project on Ethnic Relations presented PER’s recent publications: “Roma and EU Accession: Elected and Appointed Romani Representatives in an Enlarged Europe” (Brussels, 9-10 December 2003); “The Romani Mahalas (Neighborhoods) of Southeastern Europe: Politics, Poverty and Ethnic Unrest”.
g) Presentations delivered and distributed by other members of the Group were compiled in a separate document and were made available to the Group. This included Mr. Tolkalin (Russian Federation)’s presentation where he informed the group about the nomination of Mr. Vladimir Yakovlev as Minister for Regional Development of the Russian Federation, which would be responsible for the elaboration and implementation of the state policies in the field of inter-ethnic relations and national minority issues, including Roma. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had approached the new Minister suggesting to re-establish an Expert Group on Russian Roma under the aegis of the Ministry for Regional Development. Mr. Grigorychenko (Ukraine) also distributed a presentation providing information about the recent census, as well as about the situation of Roma in the field of employment, housing, health and education.
III. RELATIONS BETWEEN THE MG-S-ROM AND THE EUROPEAN ROMA AND TRAVELLERS FORUM (ERTF) [Rules of procedure adopted by the ERTF; see MG-S-ROM (2004)16 pages 39-41]
a) The Chair, Mr. Mirga (Poland), reminded the Group of decisions adopted at the eighteenth meeting as regards its relations with the Forum and gave his views on possible future co-operation between the MG-S-ROM and the ERTF [see final 18th meeting report MG-S-ROM (2004)16 – item V].
b) Mr. Rudko Kawczynski, President ad interim of the Forum, presented his views on future co-operation between the MG-S-ROM and the ERTF and informed the Group about recent developments. He underlined the complementarity of the MG-S-ROM and the Forum and informed the Group about the relationship established with other Council of Europe sectors/bodies (e.g. recent invitation received from the Congress for Regional and Local Authorities of the Council of Europe). He mentioned the adoption and translation in various languages of the rules of procedure (available on ERTF website: www.ertf.org), as well as the creation of an electoral review committee in charge of checking if national elections were democratic. He said that the first plenary meeting of the Forum would take place in Strasbourg at the end of the year4. The MG-S-ROM, should, if it so wished, request an observer status with the Forum. The Secretariat informed the Group that the Steering Committee on Social Cohesion (CDCS) would discuss the ERTF request to have an observer status at this committee.
c) The Group confirmed the decisions taken at its last meeting in Prešov, Slovakia, inter alia to grant the ERTF the status of an observer, as well as to invite one ERTF representative at all meetings among the eight reimbursed NGO experts.
d) The revised Terms of Reference were adopted and were sent to the Committee of Ministers via the CDMG5.
IV. EUROPEAN SOLIDARITY FUND
[Reply of the Committee of Ministers to Rec. 1557 (2002) of the Parliamentary Assembly on the legal situation of the Roma in Europe – CM/AS(2003)Rec1557 final 13 June 2003]
a) The Secretariat informed the Group that the Committee of Ministers had entrusted the MG-S-ROM to study the proposal of creating a European Solidarity Fund (see § 20 of the reply of the Committee of Ministers to the Parliamentary Assembly CM/AS(2003)Rec1557 final 13 June 2003) and to make concrete proposals.
b) The Chair, Mr Mirga (Poland), reminded the Group about his proposal made in Prešov, Slovakia, that such a Fund be addressed to the local and regional authorities to encourage concrete and positive actions for Roma and Traveller communities. The fund would be an incentive for local and regional authorities to develop projects for Roma or Travellers, with the condition that projects were elaborated with these communities.
c) Dr. Andor Ürmös (Hungary) informed the Group about the developments, goals, functioning and project criteria of the Roma Education Fund (REF) created in December 2004 in the context of the Decade for Roma Inclusion 2005-2015. The Office venue of the REF would be in Budapest. The Director should be chosen in the near future6. The next International Steering Committee of the Decade for Roma Inclusion would meet in Budapest on 15 April to adopt the Terms of Reference of the Roma Decade, as well as discuss the possibility of setting-up an international independent secretariat7. According to a rotating principle, Romania should take over the Presidency of the Decade for Roma Inclusion as from 1 July 2005.
d) Mr. Rudko Kawczynski, President ad interim of the Forum, presented the views of the Forum as regards Mr. Mirga’s proposal. He explained that the Forum has not taken any decisions yet as regards such a Fund but he wished to highlight three important points to be taken into consideration:
- the money allocated to this Fund should benefit Roma;
- this fund should be an incentive to change attitude of local authorities vis-à-vis the Roma communities;
- the creation of this Fund should not be an excuse for local authorities not to take any measures or finance any projects for Roma.
Mr. Kawczynski also underlined what he characterized as an “illness”, i.e. the fact that none of the existing funds for Roma were in the hands of Roma.
e) Mr. Anthony Lockett, Deputy Head of Unit, Employment and Social Affairs DG, presented the views of the European Commission as regards Mr. Mirga’s proposal. He recalled that the European Commission favoured inclusive policies, inter alia through the use of EU structural funds. He did not see any competition between EU structural funds and the proposal made by Mr. Mirga. However, he raised concerns about the possibility of duplications with other special funding structures for Roma. He suggested that it should be a complementarity funding (providing co-funding for local authorities, or to be used for housing projects, for instance). He agreed that the use of the Fund should be monitored by Roma.
f) Following discussion, the Group decided that it would collect information regarding existing funds for Roma, at national or international level, in order to identify the possible added value of a European Solidarity Fund, e.g. by highlighting areas that were not covered by any existing funds. The Chair and the Secretariat proposed to contact PAKIV, a European Roma Fund non-governmental organisation, which was currently carrying out some research on this topic for OSCE-ODIHR, and to invite them at the next MG-S-ROM meeting. The Congress should also be invited to discuss this topic. The Group proposed to create a working group to further discuss the Fund.
V. DRAFT RECOMMENDATION ON BETTER ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE FOR ROMA AND TRAVELLERS IN EUROPE
[Revised draft recommendation on Better Access to Health Care for Roma and Travellers in Europe MG-S-ROM (2005) 7 prov; Comments on this draft recommendation MG-S-ROM (2004) 3 rev 5; new comments received MG-S-ROM (2005) 6].
a) Mr. Petar Antić, Minority Rights Center, gave a brief presentation on his report “Roma and Right to Health Care in Serbia”. He also made various proposals for the draft recommendation on better access to health care for Roma and Travellers in Europe.
b) The Secretariat reported on the ad hoc working group held in Strasbourg on 25 February and informed the Group of comments or amendments received since then.
c) Mr. Piotr Mierzewski from the Health Division presented his views as regards the revised draft recommendation and how it related to (draft) recommendations (to be) adopted in the health sector. He suggested inter alia to write an explanatory report.
d) Mrs. Miranda Vuolasranta, Council of Europe Adviser on Roma issues, and Mrs. Eva Sobotka, European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), presented amendments resulting from discussion at the Round Table with the International Romani Women’s Network (IRWN) in Vienna, 31-March-1 April 2005.
e) The Group went through the text [MG-S-ROM (2005) 7]. Several delegations proposed amendments. Some delegations considered that the present draft was too long and should be shortened, bearing in mind that other aspects (housing, education, nomadic lifestyle) were addressed in other Council of Europe recommendations. The Group fixed a new deadline for submitting comments, i.e. end of April. The Secretariat was entrusted to collect all the proposals and to prepare a new draft to be circulated to the Group prior to the next meeting.
VI. CELEBRATION OF INTERNATIONAL ROMA DAY
[input about recent developments and messages from international actors on the occasion of International Roma Day - MG-S-ROM (2005)5]
a) The Secretariat distributed the document MG-S-ROM (2005)5 which comprised various articles and messages from all over the world on the occasion of the International Roma Day. In addition, the message from EUMC and the Council of Europe were distributed at the meeting.
b) Mr. Markus Adelsbach from the Private Office presented the message to European Roma and Travellers from the Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General, Mrs. Maud De Boer Buquicchio. Mrs. Miranda Vuolasranta said also a few words on that occasion.
c) Ms. Ivana d’Alessandro from the Secretariat presented the updated webpage of the Roma and Travellers Division, and documentation available online
VII. REPORTING ON THE STUDY ON ACCESS TO SOCIAL RIGHTS FOR NOMADIC POPULATIONS IN EUROPE
[Provisional study report on access to social rights for nomadic populations in Europe MG-S-ROM (2005) 4 prov., which includes country reports on access to social rights for nomadic populations in Belgium, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, plus the Outline for a study on the social and economic rights of nomadic populations MG-S-ROM (2002) 17 rev and the standard analysis form and bibliography on social rights of nomadic populations in Europe MG-S-ROM (2004) 11]
a) Mr. Laurent Keller, consultant, reported on the study visit to Belgium and the Netherlands (8-11 March). He thanked Mr. Peter Jorna (the Netherlands) for his kind assistance in organising meetings with relevant local NGOs and authorities.
Mr. Keller pointed out some difficulties in finding official documents and reports regarding the situation of nomadic populations in Belgium. Documents in Flemish are not always translated into French. Few documents related to the situation in Wallonia are available online. Little information about nomadic populations in Belgium is available from comparative law libraries. It seems related to the distribution of competencies between the Federal authorities, regions and communities, which is not always very clear. Therefore, the field visit in Belgium brought more detailed information and helped drafting the report. He also mentioned that the application of the French Loi Besson is under discussion in Belgium.
More generally-speaking, Mr. Keller underlined the gap between sedentary and travelling populations, which were reflected by social tensions and potential cultural conflicts. In some cases, the technical possibility left for this population to conduct a nomadic lifestyle was questionable. The issue of domicile remained one of the most problematic. In France, the law does not allow an individual to establish domicile at another person’s address. This is authorized in Belgium. Mr. Keller emphasized that legislation existed but nomadic populations were not always made aware of that legislation, nor had the tools to bring cases in front of the court. There were however some good practices which sometimes balanced the inefficiencies of the system. He quoted as an example the network of socio-sanitary correspondents in the Flanders who systematically visit families having less than three- year old children.
b) Mr. Keller informed the Group about the definitions he had received from members of the Group regarding “nomadic populations”. These definitions differed from each other and it was difficult to come up with a common definition [see document MG-S-ROM (2005)4 prov, chapter 1].
c) Mr. Dominique Steinberger, consultant, presented a progress report on the study of social and economic rights of nomadic populations in Europe. The draft document MG-S-ROM (2005)4 prov was about 120 pages long and included:
- the definition of the notion of “nomadic populations” in some member states;
- reports about field visits in Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands;
- Reports about social rights of nomadic populations (Travellers) in Belgium (Wallonia), France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. A report on Italy was to be drafted.
- A synthesis, as well as conclusions and suggestions;
- Appendices including the project outline, a database of national legislation relevant for nomadic populations, a mask for reporting, a bibliography and a statistical analysis of replies to a questionnaire sent to member states.
Mr. Steinberger took note that the Group, at its last meeting in Prešov (Slovakia), was not in favour of drafting a new separate recommendation on social rights of Travellers. He suggested to take as much as possible into consideration the results and conclusions of this study for the drafting of the recommendation on better access of Roma and Travellers to health care, and especially the recommendation on policies for Roma and Travellers in Europe.
d) During the discussion, Mr. Naysmith (United Kingdom) questioned the quality of the report on the social rights of itinerant populations in the UK. He gave as an example the information regarding ratification of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, which was not accurate. Mrs. Klajner (Croatia) requested to receive more information about the costs of this study. The Secretariat provided the requested information for the period 2004-2005 underlying that, in accordance with the Project Outline [MG-S-ROM (2002) 17 rev], each step of the study required a prior approval from the MG-S-ROM.
Mr. Jorna (Netherlands) found this study interesting as it addresses the problematic and needs of a specific category of population, especially in Western Europe, and whic deserves more attention.
Mrs Eva Sobotka from EUMC expressed her interest for this study as it gave information on how the EU Directive 43/2000 on equal treatment of persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin was relevant for nomadic populations and whether that Directive addressed all concerns of that category of population. The Secretariat suggested that a cooperation might be established between EUMC and the Council of Europe to finalise the study, using also EUMC expertise8.
e) The Group reaffirmed its position not to draft a new separate recommendation on access of nomadic populations to social rights. The Secretariat was entrusted to take contacts with EUMC to discuss possible cooperation. No decision was taken by the Group as to whether the study should be extended to the next phase of the study, i.e. on “access of nomadic populations to economic rights” for the period 2005-2006, as originally planned under § 4.2 phase 5 of the Outline of the study MG-S-ROM (2002) 17 rev.
VIII. DRAFT RECOMMENDATION ON POLICIES TOWARDS ROMA AND TRAVELLERS IN EUROPE
a) The Secretariat informed the Group about the background to the draft recommendation on policies towards Roma and Travellers in Europe, pointing out that it would be helpful to have it completed in 2006 to mark the 10th anniversary of the Group. He recalled the recent discussion and the contribution of Mr. Alan Phillips, as regards the introduction of a new chapter on monitoring and evaluation of Roma and Travellers policies.
b) Mrs. Isabel Alonso Luzuriaga (Spain) informed the Group about the possibility to hold an ad hoc working group in Madrid to further discuss and possibly finalise the draft. She proposed a meeting in Autumn. The Secretariat pointed out that only countries having submitted comments to the draft would be invited, as well as a few experts in the field.
c) The Group thanked Mrs Alonso Luzuriaga for the kind offer and entrusted the Secretariat to take contacts with the Spanish authorities to prepare this meeting. A new deadline for receiving comments from member states was fixed for the end of April.
IX. EU POLICY IN THE FIELD OF ROMA
a) The Chair, Mr. Andrzej Mirga (Poland), introduced this topic, referring inter alia to Roma and structural funds, the EMS monitoring report of PHARE projects, and the recommendations of the report “The situation of Roma in an enlarged European Union”.
He pointed to out that there was a growing interest among Roma and Governments to use EU policies and financial instruments for Roma related programs. He underlined that the EU new member states were in the process of using structural funds for period 2004-2006 and, that it would be important to have even partial assessment of the impact of these funds on Roma minorities. Such assessment and positive practice could be used in designing new NAPs (National Development Plans) for the new programming period 2007-2013. He mentioned that the Project on Ethnic Relations (PER) was involved in promoting the inclusion of Roma minorities’ interests in NAPs of several countries (Poland and Romania). This was a concrete follow-up of the PER meeting in Brussels from December 2003, in which issues related to structural funds and Roma were discussed by Romani elected and appointed representatives. Mr. Mirga raised also the question of the EU approaches to Romani issues, i.e. mainstreamed or targeted policies. He recalled the EMS report on the PHARE support for Roma minorities, in which it was stated that Roma might need more targeted policies, since among many disadvantaged categories or social groups which were also weak and badly organised, Roma minorities might benefit the least from structural funding instruments. He underlined also that Roma representatives and leaders should be active in lobbing their governments for larger inclusion of Romani interests into NAPs and that there was a short time ahead to do so; drafts of these document needed to be ready and consulted by the end on 2005 or beginning of 2006.
b) Mr. Anthony Lockett, Deputy Head of Unit, Employment and Social Affairs DG, European Commission, presented the EU instruments and policies that can be used for addressing Romani concerns and problems. He underlined that the EU policies like inclusion, employment or anti-discrimination are general policies to be applied for all disadvantaged categories. The European Commission was paying however a particular attention to Romani issues. Responding to Mr. Mirga remarks he underlined that it was too early to assess the impact of National Development Plans on certain categories of the population. It was generally believed that EU Structural Funds contributed to the improvement of the situation of the Roma.
c) Mr. Andor Ürmös (Hungary) mentioned that separate committees were established in Hungary and Slovakia to monitor the effect of National Development Plans on Roma. In Hungary, the Prime Minister asked how to involve Roma in the new National Development Plans. The committee in Hungary visited beneficiaries and this could be considered as a first step to have an assessment. However, Mr. Ürmös agreed with the Chair that an assessment report of the impact of the National Development Plans was very much necessary.
X. ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE NEXT MEETING AND FOR THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF THE MG-S-ROM IN 2006
a) Date and place of future meetings
i. Mr. Petr Grygorichenko (Ukraine) reiterated his proposal to invite the MG-S-ROM at a round table to be organised in the Ukraine in July 20059.
ii. Mr. Ilie Dînca (Romania) proposed to host the 20th MG-S-ROM meeting in Romania in Autumn 200510.
b) Celebration of the tenth anniversary of the MG-S-ROM
i. The Chair, Mr. Mirga (Poland) proposed to publish a report detailing work and results achieved by the MG-S-ROM over the last decade.
ii. The Group thanked the Ukrainian and Romanian members for their kind invitations. They agreed with the proposal to host the next meeting in Romania and entrusted the Secretariat to take contact with the Romanian authorities to prepare the 21st meeting. Decisions as regards the celebration of the 10th anniversary were postponed to the next meeting.
FIELD VISIT TO THE POLYGONE DISTRICT IN STRASBOURG ON THE OCCASION OF INTERNATIONAL ROMA DAY
The Group and the Secretariat met during the afternoon with representatives of local Roma (especially Gitanos) and Gens du voyage, as well as with representatives of the municipality dealing with these communities.