Concluding the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015
At the 28th International Steering Committee (ISC) meeting of the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Decade was officially closed. Ms Semiha Borovac, Minister of Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Ms Milanka Opacic, Deputy Prime Minister of Social Policy and Youth of Croatia opened the meeting with a retrospective of the actions taken by their governments to include Roma and with an overview of their key achievements. Next were statements by representatives of some key international partners in the Decade: the United States (as observer), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Commission, the Council of Europe, the Open Society Foundations and the World Bank (Decade founders) and the Regional Cooperation Council. All of these statements noted the importance of the Decade in laying the grounds for Roma inclusion and setting the most important principles of such efforts, as well as the need to do more until the ambitious goal of the Decade is achieved. Decade partners expressed readiness to continue the efforts towards this goal, support future initiatives committed to Roma inclusion and meaningfully involve Roma communities.
Roma civil society organizations, represented by the Decade Focal Points’ delegates at the meeting, presented their Declaration by which they committed to continue their efforts toward full inclusion of Roma and monitoring and assessment of the governments’ performance towards this aim, and called upon their governments and the European Commission to launch a new Decade of Roma Inclusion, develop relevant policies, programs and strategies, allocate sufficient resources, implement those policies and meaningfully involve Roma in those processes.
Responding to the pledges to continue the processes of Roma inclusion initiated by the Decade, Ms Salla Saastamoinen, Director for Equality at the Directorate-General of Justice and Consumers of the European Commission and Mr Goran Svilanovic, Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council, committed to pursue further the implementation of the European Union Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020 (EU Framework) both in the European Union Member States and in the enlargement countries. The implementation of the EU Framework is already ongoing in the EU Member States and new measures are being introduced to improve the participation of Roma civil society in the process. , the involvement and cooperation of the enlargement countries on the issue of Roma inclusion is planned through the project Roma Integration 2020 that should start in 2016 under the leadership of the Regional Cooperation Council and with the support of the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission and the Open Society Foundations. Both these processes are taking over the most important legacy of the Decade, including its goals and priorities and its principles of implementing official national policies, measuring and reporting on achievements and participation of Roma.
The 28th International Steering Committee meeting featured lively debate with government and civil society representatives on the progress made in the past year, but also the main challenges and successes of the Decade as a whole. Two reports reflecting the achievements and shortcomings of the Decade were launched by the Decade Secretariat at this meeting. The Roma Inclusion Index 2015 presented a quantitative overview of the trends and the situation in Roma inclusion, while A Lost Decade? provided qualitative reflection on the whole process of the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015.. All information about the Decade, including the conclusions and documents of the previous debate within the Decade on its future and legacy will remain available to inform future initiatives on its website. With the launch of Roma Integration 2020 in 2016, the Decade website will be merged into a new website maintained by the Regional Cooperation Council.
Please find below links to documents related to the debates on the future of the Decade initiative.