Article | Open Access
Implementation of Roma Inclusion Policies: Why Defining the Problem Matters
Abstract: The concept of “Roma exclusion” has come to dominate political discussions about the marginalization of the largest ethnic minority. Placed at the center of the European Union political agenda, it recognized that Roma poverty has multiple and interrelated causes, which require multifaceted policy responses. Nevertheless, while the concept has acquired strategic connotations, by stressing socio-economic processes it has remained open to different interpretations. These are influenced by political perceptions of Roma identity and minority rights, as well as domestic policy approaches to equality. The pivotal instability in the discourse concerns the question of whether exclusion is a characteristic feature of contemporary European societies or a living condition visited on particular individuals and ethnic groups. This article critically examines the discourse on Roma exclusion adopted in the framework of European cohesion policy. Building on implementation and equality scholarship, it argues that every postulated solution has built into it a particular representation of what the problem is, and it is these representations and their implications that need to be discussed as potential causes of policy success or failure. The article presents key findings from the empirical investigation of Structural Funds (SF) programming (2007–2013) implemented in two convergence regions (Andalusia and Eastern Slovakia), which confirm that domestic discourse shapes the scope and quality of SF Roma inclusion projects.
Keywords: cohesion policy; equality; framing; implementation; minority; Roma-exclusion; Structural Funds
© Joanna Kostka. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.