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Roma Rights 2013: National Roma Integration Strategies: What Next?

6th, January, 2014

National Roma Integration Strategy: Do Good Intentions Fail?

Joanna Kostka1

Europe continues to face tremendous difficulties in alleviating the socio-economic marginalisation of its largest minority, the Roma.2 This highly diverse diaspora of people, one of the oldest surviving minorities on the old continent, struggles against deep-seated prejudice, racism and poverty. For over a decade now, the European Union (EU) has exerted pressure on its member states to “change the situation of their marginalised population” dispensing a wide range of legal, policy and financial instruments in hopes of persuading reluctant governments to accept responsibility for integration, community development and social cohesion. For a variety of reasons EU initiatives and measures have essentially failed to generate suitable and sustainable success. As a consequence in 2011 the European Commission launched the “EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies (2013-2020)”, calling on member states to prepare and revise National Integration Strategies, in an effort to generate tangible improvements in the living conditions of the Roma, which continue to resemble those of sub-Saharan Africa.3

In response to the European call, the Polish government proposed to continue its Roma-integration activities undertaken since 2001 within the framework of the “Pilot Programme for the Roma Communities in Malopolska Region 2001-2003” and the “National Roma Integration Strategy for the years 2004-2013”. It stated that the 2014-2020 strategy will be fashioned on existing models and practices, and will adhere to the priorities outlined in the European Framework. In a country marked by transient reforms and deep-cutting political imbroglios, opting for continuity could be taken for a steadfast political commitment to the needs of Poland’s most marginalised minority.4 However, the minuscule impact of past measures and the largely ineffective implementation methodologies dramatically undermine the choices and motivations of the authorities. It seems that instead of commitment to socio-economic reforms and inter-cultural dialogue, the Polish state has settled for fragmented, one-off interventions, driven by a political interest to demonstrate compliance with EU frameworks and recommendations.

This article presents an analysis of Polish experiences in designing and implementing the National Roma Integration Strategy for the years 2004-2013 (hereinafter referred to as the “Programme”). Close scrutiny of the Programme is imperative as it constitutes one of the main pillars of Polish integration policies and forms a ‘prototype’ for the upcoming strategy for 2014-2020, which apart from small technical adjustments to the modus operandi has remained basically the same. The analysis is also timely as there is mounting evidence that many problems identified in the early 2000s have not been fully resolved, and there is a danger that similar mistakes are being replicated. The article argues that the main shortcomings of the Programme are rooted in the down-playing of strategic dimensions of exclusion, and a failure to conceptualise integration of Roma as a process requiring changes in institutional settings and in the attitudes of both the majority and the minority population. The Programme’s narrow focus on the immediate needs of (often randomly selected) groups and communities, although effective in delivering practical and appreciated aid, has failed to recognise a need for wider pro-integration reforms and in many instances (perhaps unintentionally) only exacerbates divisions between the communities, thus undermining the legitimacy of public provisions.

Roma in Poland – Brief overview

Poland has one of the smallest proportions of national and ethnic minorities in the European Union.5 According to the results of the National Census in 2002 around 4,500,000 people in Poland (1.23%) declared other than Polish nationality. Within this number only 12,731 Polish citizens declared that they belong to the Roma ethnic minority. Although non-governmental organisations claim that the real number is much higher, their estimates rarely surpass 50,000. This means that Roma constitute at most around 0.03% of the entire population of Poland, a number too small to attract substantial political attention. Although small in number the Roma population is highly diverse: the four main Roma ethnic ‘sub-groups’- the Polish Roma, Carpathian Roma (Bergirtka Roma) Kelderians and Lowerians - are characterised by profound historical, social and economic differences.6 This diversity leads to considerable variety in the policy needs, aspirations and political capacities of each community. However, because of a long history of exclusion from political activism and limited interaction between Roma and non-Roma communities, many of the divisions, internal tensions and idiosyncratic needs go unnoticed by outside observers (including policy makers and academics). Moreover, the lack of comprehensive studies on the situation of Roma, compounded by the weak lobbying power of Roma leaders, allows for an overly-simplified and essentialist picture of the minorities’ living conditions, more often than not limited to negative assessments of personal attainments, adaptability and hermetic culture.

As a result, the reality of ‘Roma’ people does not necessarily determine the political perceptions of Roma or the content of public policies supposedly aimed at Roma inclusion or empowerment (Kovats 2013). Instead, Roma are often expected to comply with measures that respond to very limited and static interpretations of their interests (Vermeersch 2002). Although the EU was instrumental in redefining Polish Roma as an ethnic group, increasingly supported by a minority rights framework and supranational funding for social inclusion, the promotion of Roma “difference” over “equality” dramatically reduced the potential for societal solidarity and disconnected Roma people from the wider political arena. The perpetual absence of Roma civil society in political life and the decision-making apparatus has given rise to “crisis-management” interventions, characterised by low-cost investments (i.e. infrastructural repairs, individual scholarships and training programs) delivered by individual public agencies reluctant to form partnerships with the communities, NGOs or even other public actors. Treating members of the Roma population as passive beneficiaries of state aid has only reinforced dependency patterns, missing an opportunity to promote empowerment and to engender a sense of shared ownership.

Socio-economic standing

Given that it has such a small and widely dispersed Roma population, Poland has rarely encountered international criticism or “shaming tactics”. Although in 2005 the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) criticised Poland for lax investigation and prosecution of violent attacks on Roma,7 the socio-economic aspects of Roma exclusion continue to be largely overlooked. This omission is largely a result of reluctance or inability to collect comprehensive and reliable data on the socio-economic situation of the Roma minority, a failure that gravely obfuscates the scale and scope of experienced problems. Nevertheless research conducted by international organisations indicates that Roma face profound difficulties in each of the main policy areas (employment, housing, education and health) and struggle against widespread discrimination.8 The limited social-economic gains that the Roma community experienced under communism were swiftly reversed by the transition from command to market economies. The introduction of feverish neo-liberal policies has severely constrained the ability of Polish Roma to cope with change by depriving them of income and formal employment.9 A study by the Fundamental Rights Agency found extensive impoverishment and structural unemployment among Roma communities, showing that unemployment ranges from 45% to 70%, with some communities experiencing even 100%. Rampant privatisation of social housing and declining security of tenure have led to the accumulation of debt, forcible evictions and homelessness. The living conditions of many Roma, already characterised by poor quality and/or segregated housing, have continued to deteriorate. It is estimated that more than 60% of Roma live in substandard conditions. The gap between Roma educational attainment and the national average remains enormous and shows signs of widening. Despite a steady rise in the number of Roma pupils completing primary school (according to the Ministry of Labour 70% of Roma children attend elementary school), the performance of Roma children is still disappointing and drop-out rates continue to be extremely high.10 Instances of segregation and placement of Roma children in “special schools”, although not as common as in the neighbouring states, continue to thwart Roma educational attainments and subsequent economic success in adulthood. Moreover more than 80% of Roma children have no access to pre-school education or to any after-school or cultural activities, while NGOs claim that more than 50% go to school hungry. Finally, in comparison with the non-Roma population, Roma communities suffer from poorer health and unhealthy living conditions, which translate into shorter life expectancy and higher risk of fatal diseases. These persistent inequalities across the socio-economic sphere threaten to lead to the escalation of conflicts with the majority and the consolidation of what Andrzej Mirga called “an underclass of citizens”.11

Despite acknowledging that Roma are the only minority in Poland at risk of dramatic socio-economic exclusion that requires considerable investment, the political elites refrain from nationwide debates on poverty and social cohesion. Instead, Roma-exclusion issues remain largely confined to debates about cultural values and perceived difficulties in harmonising elements of Roma culture with mainstream values and practices.12 The opinion expressed by Sławomir Łodziński, a sociologist at Warsaw University, that “the principle area of conflict is culture”, echoes through most governmental deliberations on the “Roma Question”. Roma-led organisations themselves are prone to concentrate on cultural aspects, pointing to a “lack of understanding of Roma customs” and widespread fear of coercive assimilation among Roma communities.13 Although some central elements of Roma culture might deviate from consolidated mainstream expectations, focusing exclusively on such differences obscures existing commonalities and downgrades the role of social, economic and political complexities in perpetuating exclusion and poverty. Instead, Roma exclusion is framed as a product of individual choices and cultural dogmas rather than a consequence of problems partially related to the decline in the quality and accessibility of public services. It is conceptualised in terms of “distance” or separation from a core of society which consists of people who are integrated into the sets of relationships and institutions that are considered “normal”. Such conceptions are at the core of governmental action plans, and arguably constitute an implicit yet powerful obstacle to meaningful integration and alleviation of poverty.

Government Support

In accordance with national law and international guidelines signed by the Republic of Poland, the Roma community is recognised as an ethnic minority, with full access to legal protection and state aid.14 As a result of the work of the Team for National Minorities, in March 2000 work began on the preparation of a pilot government programme for the Roma community in the Malopolska province for the years 2001-2003. The programme was developed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration (MIAA) in cooperation with other ministries, as well as the Regional Plenipotentiaries for Roma Issues and local authorities. Consultations were held with selected Roma-led non-governmental organisations as well as the leaders of self-governments. Although the implementation of the programme was severely limited because of inadequate funding from the state budget, it received a positive assessment from the European Commission15 and from the Commissioner for Human Rights - a rather surprising development given the incongruence between the programme’s scope (limited to a few communities residing in one region) and the circumstances of the Roma population in general.16

The pilot programme’s main priority was to achieve “full participation of Roma from the Malopolska17 region in civic and social life” as well as to bridge the gap between Roma and the rest of society in all major policy areas, including education, employment, health and housing. Given the absence of comprehensive evaluation of the programme’s outputs and outcomes, it is difficult to assess how influential it actually was. One initiative that received some analytical attention was the introduction of Roma teaching assistants, in an effort to eliminate segregation of children in so-called “Roma classes”, and to provide language support and mediation between schools and families. Despite numerous setbacks, the initiative was considered as “needed and generally effective” by both public authorities and Roma NGOs.18 As a result, in 2005 the position of “Roma teaching assistant” was recognised as an official job category, subsidised by the Ministry of Education and Sports. However, the direct impact of such assistance on the participation and performance of Romani children remains unclear. In fact, the drop-out rate (especially among girls) has not been reduced, and in some regions it has actually increased.19 Although the programme lacked indicators and benchmarks with which to assess its achievements, the authorities advertised it as “good practice” and used the lessons they claimed to have learned from it as a blueprint for the preparation and implementation of a nationwide, multi-annual programme: the National Roma Integration Strategy for the years 2004-2013.

The adopted Programme constituted part of a policy of equal opportunities aiming to “equalise disparities between ethnic minorities and the rest of Polish population”. Internalising the objectives of the pilot programme discussed above, it was envisioned as an affirmative action initiative, promoting social integration, with particular attention to economic, care-providing and educational functions. It stated that “because of the extreme levels of exclusion and widely spread discrimination experienced by Romani communities, targeted programmes for Roma are seen as a necessary transition step to full mainstreaming”. The main priorities covered eight policy areas: education, employment, health, housing, security, civic participation, culture and inter-cultural learning. The thematic areas, however, were unevenly represented, both with respect to the number of the co-financed projects and to their values. The majority of the co-financed projects (64%) were carried out in the area of education, followed by culture (13%), housing (10%) and health (3%). Initiatives pertaining to employment constituted only 2% while less then 1% was allocated to security and 4% to inter-cultural activities. Despite such incongruities20 and its acutely underdeveloped anti-discrimination dimension, the Programme complied with general EU recommendations and vouched to promote innovative plans in close cooperation with self-governments and Roma NGOs.

The activities implemented as part of the Programme were financed from the specific state budgetary allowance for the integration of the Roma community. The annual allocation amounted to PLN 10 million (approx. EU 2.5 million – which also covered educational tasks, whose implementation was the Programme’s main priority). Moreover, a sum of PLN 700 thousand (approx. EUR 175 thousand) from the state budget managed by the Ministry of National Education and Sports was spent annually on textbooks and other school supplies for Roma students. The Ministry also granted funds for scholarships for gifted Roma students (since 2011 – available at all levels of education). The implementation of other thematic projects was financed from the resources of self-governments and municipal authorities. All together, the Programme realised 4,793 initiatives, of which 66% were undertaken and co-financed by the self-governments. In an effort to strengthen the sustainability of provided initiatives the Programme was granted support from the European Social Fund for the Human Capital Operational Programme (sub-measure 1.3.1 Projects for the Roma Community – contest projects). The allocation for the “Roma component” for 2007-2013 amounts to EUR 22 million. This component has been designed as complementary to the governmental Programme. By 2011, 50 project co-financing agreements had been undersigned as a result of contests organised as part of sub-measure 1.3.1; the total value of the projects amounts to PLN 39 million (nearly EUR 10 million). Problems with inter-programme coordination and inadequate capacities of implementers slowed down the absorption rate and consequential redirection of EU funding to other targets.

Programme Review

In 2011 a review of the Programme was commissioned by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration, to evaluate the undertaken activities and their achievements in the eight main priority areas. The review diagnosed the effectiveness of implementation process and proposed a list of recommendations concerning the continuation of the Programme in the years 2014-2020. Overall, the report delivered a rather “lukewarm” assessment, praising the unprecedented interest shown by the authorities in Roma issues but pointing out several serious structural pitfalls. It stressed that overly-bureaucratic top-down management, the absence of innovative approaches to exclusion and the limited capacities and expertise of major stakeholders severely curtailed not only the efficiency of the implementation process but also the relevance and sustainability of introduced interventions. The report pointed out that “a vital opportunity to build inter-cultural partnership and stimulate local ownership of the Programme was relinquished” in favour of the “monopolisation” of the Programme by an impervious group of Roma leaders and self-governments often far removed from the communities and the most urgent issues.21 As one project manager expounded:

“The design of the Programme overlooked the existing patterns of privilege and the uneven distribution of resources among Roma communities, NGOs, and local authorities. In many instances the Roma leaders became the ‘puppets’ of the government agencies, which favoured tokenistic forms of local consultation over less comfortable discussions with street-level groups representing the full diversity of community interests. The funding opportunities were often hijacked by ‘established’ organisations and better off communities, leaving out those in the direst need”.22

The Programme’s objective to engage with interrelated problems through multiple sectors were deemed to be overly ambitious and not clearly specified. In fact the strategic dimension was judged to be less concrete and explicit at the lowest levels of the administrative hierarchy. The report illustrated that the implementers eschewed initiatives which could promote systemic change, in favour of practical tasks and activities. In fact, when questioned, the overwhelming majority of the project managers were unable to delineate programme goals or explain how, in the long run, their projects would contribute to integration and cohesive development.23 This pitfall resulted in the predomination of miscellaneous, “one-off” projects which rarely fitted inside a given goal-axis and had limited bearing on the envisioned path towards integration and mainstreaming. Talking about infrastructural initiatives, The Provincial Office convincingly argued that the lack of a strategic dimension in the proposed projects stemmed from inadequate technical capacities, confusion over common goals and highly equivocal regulations:

“The Programme’s regulations failed to introduce any requirements for demonstrating projects’ impacts and envisioned outcomes. This substantially weakened the motivation of managers to develop strategic, sustainable methodologies. They simply chose kinds of activity they were already competent in or used to, without considering the overall Programme’s purpose. Because many of them lacked experience in tackling complex issues and were not provided with any technical assistance they remained frugal in their conceptions and opted for simple, feasible tasks – roof repairs, replacement of windows, etc. – none of which added to or complemented existing state interventions and development policies”.24

The predominance of such undertakings (out of 20 projects, 19 provided one-off repair assistance while one delivered improvements to the sewer system) was also attributed to the reluctance of self-governments to include the needs of Roma communities in their wider political agendas. A high level of prejudice and inability to win support of the non-Roma majority for the Programme meant that there was little interest in designing and implementing elaborate inclusion projects which would bring two communities together. The fear of losing the support of the electorate, compounded by dwindling resources and limited pressure from above, effectively pushed Roma issues aside. The fact that the Programme’s funding was targeted solely at Roma, only exacerbated the inclination “to do nothing” or “do the minimum”. The report identified that such “exclusive” targeting had become a source of conflict between Roma and non-Roma especially in areas where the two communities lived in close proximity under similar conditions. As one frustrated mayor put it:

“I cannot simply provide assistance and money to one group while excluding another ... here everybody is dealing with similar problems and lives in similar conditions ...favouritism simply does more harm than good ... it deepens mistrust and creates unnecessary conflict... the provisions we receive offer little flexibility and prevent us from creating larger-scale programs which would benefit everybody...this is not equal treatment - this is perpetuation of difference”.25

Despite these problems, the report indicated that the majority of the Programme’s activities (93.3%) were implemented by the self governments. Although the growing engagement of public authorities was considered a “generally positive development”, the character and impact of their commitments appeared highly unsatisfactory. The report revealed that an acute lack of knowledge about the Roma population, compounded by disinclination to consult with the communities, led to the creation of irrelevant measures, guided by the aspirations of the self-governments rather than by the actual needs of the citizens. Most Roma survey respondents declared that the projects executed for the Roma communities were not discussed with them. Although the authorities insisted that such consultations did take place, the evaluation revealed that they were undertaken in an ad-hoc manner, without the engagement of the entire community. Throughout the running of the Programme not a single public meeting was organised, at which Roma and non-Roma interested in funding opportunities could have met, learned about the possibilities and discussed possibilities for collaboration. Furthermore, the consequences of poor organisation and weak links with local authorities and NGOs were evident in accessing funding earmarked for implementing employment and cultural activities. More than 45% of available funds were not utilised, while implemented health and training activities attracted less than 5% of the intended participants.

The sombre finding of the report was that the Programme’s funds have paid little attention to institutional barriers to integration and have failed to address the imperative need for inter-cultural dialogue. Although Polish equality policy envisions integration as a process that necessitates structural changes and awareness-raising among mainstream society (about issues concerning minorities including women, people with disabilities, and national and ethnic minorities) the Programme failed on both counts. Except for the initiatives concerned with Roma teaching assistants, structural dimensions of exclusion were largely ignored inside other policy areas (i.e. the majority of initiatives offered “one-off” training programmes in different fields, targeted almost exclusively at Roma). Moreover, less than 1% of available funds were used to finance initiatives which aimed to disseminate information and knowledge about Roma history, culture, and traditions. Surprisingly even fewer resources were devoted to research and project-facilitating interaction between the Roma and non-Roma populations. One of the community leaders bitterly stated:

“Of course, providing Romani children with books and notebooks is important but without changing the curriculum to include aspects of Romani culture and its contribution to Polish history, proper integration is just a dream. The ‘helping hand’ projects only impose a new culture of dependency, and totally underline the hostility and ignorance of mainstream society towards the Roma. What good are training projects when it is a common practice to reject job applicants based on their belonging to a certain ethnic group? I am not saying that Roma are without their faults, but in order to prompt integration the majority needs to change as well”.26

The report concluded that further progress requires closer links between projects aiming to improve the quality of life for Roma communities and wider socio-economic inclusion policies. It stated that this could be achieved through increasing inter-departmental cooperation and the share of the Roma representatives in the process of planning, implementation and evaluation of projects designed by self-governments and non-Roma NGOs. To ensure the effectiveness of this partnership all efforts should be governed by commitment to shared objectives and clear targets informed by an overarching strategic vision and by transparency of operations, and strategic interests being given priority over local or sectional interests.

What will the future bring?

The unveiling of the new Roma inclusion strategy unfortunately suggests that an isolationist and narrow affirmative paradigm is still at the core of the anticipated action plans. The new Programme remains basically unchanged with only a few adjustments - mostly minor procedural and funding updates. Ornamented with ambitious goals and objectives, it neither sets out a real time-frame nor presents concrete indicators and benchmarks. Although education is still the engine of the integration policy, the new Programme does not envision any innovative or truly integrative reforms (i.e. curriculum change, introduction of Polish as a second language, pedagogical training etc.), instead it basks in previous achievements and largely downplays identified shortcomings. Perhaps the most problematic issue is the fact that the Programme’s account of the Roma quandary does not appear to be based on any substantive scientific field research or quantitative assessment of the situation on the ground. Although annual reports provided by the Provincial Offices have been incorporated, they rarely contain data disaggregated by ethnicity. In spite of the Commission’s assurance that “the Directive on Protection of Personal Data does not forbid collection of anonymous statistical data, which should be sufficient for effective monitoring and evaluation” the Programme continues to hide behind the national legislation27 and bases its assessments predominately on ad-hoc consultations with Roma NGOs and problematic census data collected in 2002 and 2011. Thus, in the words of a Roma leader from the Wielkopolska region,

“The sad part is that the authorities continue to lack knowledge about who the Roma are, what they do and how they live. There are no country-wide surveys, no qualitative case studies and no assessments of living conditions. The research that actually has been conducted rarely informs policies, and it has not been taken up by the designers of the current Programme. Even more problematic is that fact that Roma culture is consistently viewed as static, hermetic and unchangeable. Thus we are viewed in the same way as we were fifty years ago”.28

The Programme is virtually silent about the need for partnership and inter-cultural dialogue. As such, it does not provide any tools for generating collaboration between public institutions and NGOs and communities. It also does not envision any technical support for impoverished municipalities and continues to treat Roma NGOs as passive beneficiaries and not as potential engines of empowerment and social dialogue. It must be stated however, that thus far Roma leaders and Roma-led organisations have not made substantive efforts to work together and/or engage in dialogue with the majority population. Working in isolation not only diminishes their efforts to improve the situation inside their communities, but also removes them from political, cultural and social debates. The above dynamics only perpetuate the main challenges facing Roma integration programmes: the reluctance of local authorities to incorporate Roma issues into their political agenda and the lack of interaction between Roma and non-Roma societies.

Finally, the Programme fails to present concrete anti-discrimination measures, especially in the fields of employment, education and health, where consistent inequality and lack of access have been well documented. The stubborn promotion of conventional training without provision of initiatives to tackle discrimination lacks any true prospects of addressing one of the greatest problems facing the majority of Roma communities. In a climate of growing anti-Gypsyism and a time of economic uncertainty, ignoring centuries-long prejudice and deeply ingrained stereotypes jeopardises the effectiveness and sustainability of proposed programmes. Aid-style projects, not complimented by structural changes and fruitful inter-cultural debate, run a high risk of intensifying an already conflicted and mistrustful environment. To promote any positive change the Programme should be sensitive to the charge of favouring one group over another, rather than benefiting societies as a whole. The challenge here is to avoid the creation of separate policies and administrative structures for Roma minorities, without losing the affirmative aspect of the programme. The Programme needs to reject the simplistic conception of Roma culture and provide a forum for a debate where commonalities rather than differences could be discussed and celebrated. Spending money on quick and practical improvements is definitely tempting, but when undertaken outside the political arena without structured dialogues, it runs the risk of deepening ethnic division and fortifying antagonistic attitudes not only towards the Roma, but also to all other minority groups who do not fit the “Polish model of citizenship”. The Programme could be instrumental in overcoming domestic divisions, and generate adequate conditions for social cohesion, providing that it recognises the paramount need to address structural discrimination and acknowledge the benefits of working together for the benefit of all.


  1. Joanna Kostka is a PhD candidate working on European cohesion policy and its impact upon socio-economic inclusion of European minority groups. Currently she conducts research on the utilisation of European Union regulations and funding mechanisms in the design and implementation of Roma-integration strategies in old and new member states.
  2. ‘Roma’ is a political term used as an umbrella name for all members of the Romani ethnic community (such as Roma, Sinti, Kale, Gypsies, Romanichels, Boyash, Ashkali, Egyptians, Yenish, Dom, Lom and Travellers). Its usage in political and sometimes academic discourse demonstrates a strong tendency to treat the extremely ethnically diverse Romani community or communities as a largely homogenous group, overshadowing the various appellations preferred by the individual groups and subgroups (such as Sinti, Kale, Rudari, Boyash, and Travellers). I am aware that from an ethnographic point of view, the Romani community is extremely diverse and all Romani groups, subgroups and metagroups have their own ethnic and cultural features (see Acton and Gheorghe 2001, Marushiakova and Popov 2001). Thus in this article I make every effort not to override or undermine deep-cutting differences.
  3. The 2003 UNDP report Roma integration is key in an enlarged EU first made that comparison, 10 years later the situation has remained basically unaltered and in fact there is mounting evidence that it has even deteriorated (see the 2012 report The Situation of the Roma Minority in Selected New Member states of the European Union, European Liberal Forum)
  4. The prognostic section of National Roma Integration Strategy 2003-2013 defined Roma as the “only ethnic minority at risk of social exclusion” (NRIS 2003: 4)
  5. Visegrad.info “Roma minority in Visegrad countries”, (2010) available at: www.visegrad.info/minorities-social-exclusion-roma-minority/factsheet/roma-minority-in-visegrad-countries.html.
  6. For a detailed historical account of Polish Roma, including their tragic persecution and extermination during World War II see Mroz, L. Od Cyganow do Romow. Z Indii do Unii Europejskiej (Wydawnictwo DiG, Stowarzyszenie Romwo w Polsce – Romski Instytut Historyczny: Warszawa, 2007).
  7. The escalation of anti-Roma disturbance took place in early 1990 in Kielce and Mlawa, towns with significant Roma populations. Although open violence has since subsided, Roma rights advocates regularly point out the failure of the state to adequately prosecute violent acts committed against Roma.
  8. See European Union (EU) Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP), 2012 The Situation of Roma in 11 EU Member States: Survey Results at a Glance.
  9. Most affected were the communities of Carpathian Roma living in southern Poland. Employed as unskilled labour in the state-run industrial complexes, they were the first to lose their jobs as a result of hasty privatisation and mass closures.
  10. In 2006 the Association of Roma claimed that half of all Roma children were not enrolled in schools, in part because they and their families feared coercive assimilation.
  11. Mirga, A. and Gheorghe, N. The Roma in the Twenty-First Century: A Policy Paper, (Project on Ethnic Relations: Princeton, 1997).
  12. Ministry of the Interior and Administration Programme for the Roma Community in Poland, (2003) 4.
  13. Stowarzyszenie Romow w Polsce, Tradycyjna kultura Romow, available at: www.stowarzyszenie.romowie.net/index.php/czytnik-artykulow/items/101.html.
  14. The Polish Constitution sanctions legal protection of national and ethnic minorities and states commitments in this field (Chapter II Article 33, section 1-2, 2005).
  15. European Commission, Regular Report on Poland’s Progress Towards Accession, COM(2002) 700 final, 31.
  16. At the time of the pilot programme no other comprehensive programme was targeted at Roma-inclusion.
  17. The choice to implement the pilot programme in Malopołska was dictated by the size and level of impoverishment of the Roma population residing in this region.
  18. Rozycka, M. “Zawód- asystent edukacji romskiej” Stowarzyszenie Asystentow Edukacji Romskiej, available at: www.romowie.info/post/-zawod--asystent-edukacji-romskiej/88.
  19. Stowarzyszenie Romow w Polsce, Projekt badawczy na temat poznawczego i jezykowego funckjonowania dzieci romskich w polskim systemie edukacji, (Universytet Jagielonski, 2011).
  20. According the 2002 census the gravest issues affecting Roma communities were inadequate housing conditions and widespread long-term unemployment. Thus it is rather surprising that cultural activities (composed largely of festivals and entertainment) surpassed the other two fields.
  21. Evaluation Report, 7 – 9.
  22. Zwiazek Romow Polskich w Szczecinku, (2013).
  23. A result of the survey conducted among self-governments, local authorities and NGOs, in the framework of the Evaluation Report (2011).
  24. Interview with Provincial Office in Malopolska (2013).
  25. Interview conducted during the conference Mayors for Roma Inclusion held in Skalica, Slovakia 2011.
  26. Interview conducted during Roma Day Conference organised in Poznan 2013.
  27. Polish Legal Act of 29 August 1997: on the Protection of Personal Data Journal of Laws of 2002 No. 101, item 926.
  28. Interview conducted during the conference of Mayors for Roma Inclusion held in Skalica, Slovakia 2011.

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