18 Feb 2019

Scaling up Roma Inclusion Strategies

Truth, reconciliation and justice for addressing antigypsyism

Sergio Carrera / Lina Vosyliute / Iulius Rostas / Savelina Danova-Roussinova / Julia Guérin / Stephanie Smialowski


The study aims to promote a better understanding of the Roma communities’ situation in the EU. It explores concrete proposals to upscale the post-2020 Roma framework strategy via a Rule of Law, Democracy and Fundamental Rights (DRF) Periodic Review/Mechanism and a Truth and Reconciliation Process at the EU level. It proposes ways to strengthen the role of the European Parliament in ensuring democratic accountability and the right to truth and effective justice for past and current human rights violations.

In light of the EU’s commitment to advance the Rule of Law, Democracy and Fundamental Rights, there is a need to place the current socio-economic situation of Roma not only in a current political context, but also in a broader historical perspective. This study confirms that ‘historically and institutionally- rooted’ antigypsyism is often perpetrated by national and local authorities against Roma communities. Such institutional forms of discrimination could be challenged and eventually redressed by transitional justice-like tools that aim at bringing to light not only present, but also past injustices, to build a common narrative and facilitate mutual trust among Roma and non-Roma.

The ‘lessons learnt’ from Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRCs) in Australia, Canada, South Africa as well as Sweden and Romania indicate a number of potential upsides as well as challenges, which will help in deciding  the options for the EU. Despite various degrees of impact, TRCs have been decisive in building a common narrative and public awareness, as well as providing a detailed historical record of past wrongdoings and systemic human rights abuses. Some have also paved the ground for further investigations and reparations to victims and their families. While ‘knowledge transfer’ among TRCs has taken place internationally, it has been commonly acknowledged that ‘standardised toolkits’ or ‘models’ must be contextualised and tailored to the specificities of the issues and communities covered.

The most important factors for facilitating their success in the EU context would be: first, to ensure their independence and impartiality; second, to guarantee representativeness and ownership among Roma and pro-Roma organisations; third, to grant them the necessary length of time; fourth, to enjoy sufficient public support and/or willingness of government; fifth, provide a deeper analysis and independent research of historical, societal and political factors and developments, and how have these developed in the context of European Union integration; and sixth, to devise strong follow-up measures and instruments.

This study was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the EP Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee.

The study can be accessed here.

The study has been conducted with contributions from national experts:

  • Bulgaria – Savelina Danova-Roussinova, independent consultant
  • France – William Bila, independent consultant
  • Hungary – Iulius Rostas and Adrienn Kovács, CEU
  • Italy – Silvia Cittadini, independent consultant
  • Romania – Gelu Duminic? and Alexandra Hosszu, Impreuna Agency
  • Slovakia – Michal Vsecka, Bratislava Policy Institute
  • Spain – Ismael Cortés, independent consultant

The study has benefited from the insights and guidance of an Advisory Board:

  • Prof. Richard Goldstone, former South African Supreme Court judge
  • Marie Wilson, former Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner
  • Thomas Hammaberg, former Human Rights Commissioner at the Council of Europe, and Chairperson of the Swedish Commission on Antiziganism
  • Prof. Bruno de Witte, Professor of European Law at Maastricht University and also at the European University Institute