MEPs call for new measures to improve Roma health after 2020

A new non-legislative resolution on the need for a strengthened post-2020 strategic EU framework for national Roma inclusion strategies (NRIS), which stepped up the fight against anti-gypsyism , was adopted on 12th February by the European Parliament. It reaffirms the improvement in the self-perceived health status of Roma but notes that they continue to have limited access to medical coverage, which causes further social exclusion and anti-gypsyism.

The resolution, tabled by progressive MEPS from the EPP, S&D, ECR, ALDE, GUE/NGL, Greens/EFA groups, appeals for more priority areas, clear and binding targets, timelines and indicators for monitoring to address their specific challenges, taking account of the diversity of their Roma communities. Further, it demands substantial public funding, adequate human and financial resources, as calling on the European Commission and European governments to adopt an inter-sectional and bottom-up approach, ensuring the ongoing participation of Roma and explicitly considering children as a priority. It also restates its position, calls and recommendations in its resolution from 25 October 2017 on the importance of ensuring fundamental rights of Roma integration in the EU.   Many of these demands were reiterated during the European Parliament’s Roma week, which took place earlier this month.

EPHA has been advocating for many years for health to be prioritised in the Roma framework, as a precondition for active inclusion and full participation in society.  The text reflects EPHA’s Five key recommendations for better health paper, a reaction to the mid-term evaluation of the EU Roma Framework, as well as its analysis of EU and national policy commitments in the NRIS. It also reflects the recommendations EPHA presented at the 12th meeting of the European Platform for Roma inclusion in October 2018 as the European Commission gathered  reflections on the future EU Roma inclusion strategy beyond 2020.

At the end of 2018, the European Commission published a Communication on the evaluation of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020, following the 2017 public consultation. EPHA has already noted earlier this year that while some progress towards employment, housing and education has been made, there has been very limited improvements in Roma health. Their poor health is closely linked to income, employment, education, and their physical environment – while some Roma are completely excluded from health care, most face hostility and discrimination within healthcare settings. This results in Roma people living on average 10-15 years less than the rest of the population. The need for more and better data to explain this difference led to EPHA’s recent study Closing the life expectancy gap of Roma in Europe.

As the current framework comes to an end, the upcoming European Parliament elections provides an opportunity to recognize and amend its shortcomings, and ensure that a new EU Roma Framework will reduce the gap in health status between Roma and the majority population and deliver much-needed measures to improve Roma health and tackle anti-gypsyism.   It is hoped this resolution will another milestone in this journey.

Vladimir Kolev

Policy Assistant

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