Since 1990, for over 30 years now, every 8 April, International Roma Days come and go. But the poverty and inequality Roma communities suffer in Europe and beyond have barely changed. That is shown by the findings of a recent Roma survey of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights. And it is although Roma are subject to the EU’s only specifically ethnic policy.
The EU’s Roma policy began in 2011 and was extended for another ten years in 2020. But conceptually, the term ‘Roma’ covers a range of different communities, that do not necessarily share many of what are considered ‘cultural features’, like a common language. It is therefore even contested who, actually, qualifies as a Roma. And, as the bloc cannot intervene in many concerned policy areas on its own, EU institutions mainly encourage member states’ national governments to address Roma’s material disadvantages, exclusion and discrimination.
However, as long as prejudice and inequality go hand in hand, persistent poverty may even deepen negative stereotypes, and an ethnically-focussed policy might, hence, backfire. Therefore, the Progressive Post dedicates this dossier to the EU’s Roma policy and states that to avoid deepening racialised division even further, Progressives must win the argument for increased social investment. Hoping that in the future, Roma Days might not only be an opportunity to celebrate the pride of the communities but also to praise steps ahead in the fight against poverty and inequality.