There is a common agreement among member states of the Council of Europe on the principle “for Roma with Roma” and on the need of ensuring effective consultation, if not fully-fledged participation, of Roma and Traveller community representatives in Europe. Roma and Traveller should not only be the object of policies or target groups of projects; they should be the subject of these changes and active contributors to any policies or projects concerning their communities.

Very often, women and young people are the engines of changes in Roma and Traveller communities and are guiding lights and “allies” in the modernization process that would require special support from the side of authorities. Despite lower education level, lover familiarity with legal, institutional or administrative procedures which are basic for processes of contemporary life among the Roma and Traveller community, the steps and activities are taken by the governments should serve to Roma community not only in improving their socio-economic conditions but also for building their civic capacities in various fields. National strategies should become a kind of informal school of civic activity and civic responsibility of Roma and Travellers as the fully-fledged citizens.

Their active involvement and participation can and should become the element of change and a response to the common widespread negative about Roma and Travellers that they are the “only demanding” groups that are passively expecting public funding support. That is the reason why the authorities should create the mechanisms of active and responsible participation of Roma and Traveller communities in taken actions by empowering the Roma and Traveller communities’ capacities enabling them the active participation on an equal basis as partners of on-going processes of improving the Roma and Traveller situation in Europe and in the respective countries.


Since the end of 2015, and within the framework of the Strategic Action Plan on Roma and Traveller Inclusion (2020-2025), the Council of Europe has developed training sessions (Roma Political Schools) for Roma citizens having the potential to stand for election at the local level, in order to bring Roma closer to local decision-making bodies and to promote their active participation in local administration.



A particular focus was put on the participation of Roma and Traveller women since they are victims of multiple discrimination and are facing in the everyday life all negative consequences of marginalization and exclusion. Moreover, Roma and Traveller women are often more active, more open to addressing taboo issues within the communities, and more change-oriented.



Equally important for the topic of participation in the process of integration is the group of young Roma and Travellers. This is the group with better education, higher aspiration and a bigger demand for full participation in the civic life of the respective country than older generations. It is estimated at about 4 million young Roma and Travellers live in the 47 Council of Europe member States. Additional co-operation activities in this regard were carried out in the field of local development and Roma community empowerment through two joint programmes with the European Union – “Building capacity at local level for the integration of Roma (ROMACT)” and “Promoting good governance and Roma empowerment at local level (ROMACTED).

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Participation in consultative bodies, institutions and decision making bodies

(Host countries in bold)


Interview with Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

Year : 2012
Country : France (Strasbourg)
Language : English