ECMI Publications Database
A bleak picture of the situation of Roma and Gypsy minorities is evoked by descriptions of their socio-economic marginalisation. Since the 1990s, the decision of the European Union (EU) to expand eastwards to include former socialist countries highlighted Roma minorities as the most discriminated and excluded minority group in Europe. The social integration of Roma formed a key part of the accession negotiations as the EU attempted to address the socio-economic disadvantage of Roma by putting pressure on national governments of accession states in Central and Eastern Europe to develop human rights and non-discriminatory institutions as well as specific strategies to improve the situation of Roma. Furthermore, structural funds were made available for projects aimed at the social inclusion of Roma minority groups. These interventions facilitated opportunities for European policy intervention discussions in order to address the acute and specific challenges facing Roma across Europe. Roma minorities largely remain in disempowered and marginal communities with poverty and discrimination still cited as major challenges to their health, social and economic well-being and stability. Indeed, the situation of Roma communities is as precarious today is it has ever been with the ongoing economic crisis and the rise of the far right contributing to this predicament.