External publications

80% of Roma are at risk of poverty, new FRA survey finds

Widespread deprivation is destroying Roma lives. Families are living excluded from society in shocking conditions, while children with little education face bleak prospects for the future, a new report from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) shows. The report analyses the gaps in Roma inclusion around the EU to guide Member States seeking to improve their integration policies.

“Our manifest inability in Europe to honour the human rights of our Roma communities is unacceptable. The levels of deprivation, marginalisation, and discrimination of Europe’s largest minority is a grave failure of law and policy in the EU and its Member States,” says FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty. “The publication of these findings provides an opportunity to galvanise policy makers into action and focus resources on redressing this intolerable situation.”

Report Findings

The Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS II): Roma – selected findings report shows that:

  • 80% of Roma interviewed are at risk of poverty compared with an EU average of 17%. 30% live in households with no tap water and 46% have no indoor toilet, shower or bathroom.
  • 30% of Roma children live in households where someone went to bed hungry at least once in the previous month.
  • 53% of young Roma children attend early childhood education, often less than half the proportion of children their age from the general population in the same country.
  • Only 30% of the Roma surveyed are in paid work, compared with the average EU employment rate for 2015 of 70%.
  • 41% of Roma feel they have been discriminated against over the past 5 years in everyday situations such as looking for work, at work, housing, health and education.
  • 82% of Roma are unaware of organisations offering support to victims of discrimination.

The survey findings indicate that despite Member States’ efforts, they are still falling short of most of their integration targets, a key element of the EU’s 2011 National Roma Integration Strategies Framework. The results underline the need for:

  • early childhood learning support and integrated schooling
  • better employment opportunities and greater social protection to eradicate poverty
  • targeted education and training to specifically help Roma youths and Roma women in their transition from primary to secondary education, and thereafter find work.

Awareness of rights and reporting of discrimination – overview

(page 11) In the 2011 Roma survey, about half of the respondents indicated that they felt discriminated against because of their ethnic origin. Only a minority were aware of laws forbidding discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin when applying for a job.

EU MIDIS II finds that Roma continue to face intolerable levels of discrimination in daily life – whether looking for work, at work, in education, healthcare, or when in contact with administrative bodies or entering a shop. Almost one in two Roma (41 %) felt discriminated against because of their ethnic origin at least once in one of these areas of daily life in the past five years. One in four Roma (26 %) indicates that the last incident of perceived discrimination happened in the 12 months preceding the survey. The highest prevalence of discrimination in the past 12 months is found when using public or private services (19 %) and when looking for work (16 %). However, on average, only 12 % of Roma report their experiences of discrimination to an authority. Moreover, almost a third (27 %) of the Roma surveyed do not know of any law prohibiting discrimination based on ethnic origin, and most Roma (82 %) do not know any organisations offering support to victims of discrimination.

This suggests that, although the 2013 Council Recommendation specifically refers to a range of horizontal policy measures to address discrimination, much remains to be done to ensure the effective and practical enforcement of the Racial Equality Directive (2000/43/EC), as explicitly required by the recommendation.

**FRA Opinion 4

EU Member States should ensure that, as requested by the 2013 Council Recommendation, their public administration and equality bodies take the necessary measures to ensure the effective and practical enforcement of the Racial Equality Directive  (2000/43/EC), with a  particular focus on gender aspects.

EU  Member States and the European Commission should strengthen support for civil society efforts to raise rights awareness among Roma.

EU Member States should fully implement Article 10 of Directive 2000/43/EC, which obliges Member States to ensure that provisions adopted pursuant to the directive, together with relevant provisions already in force, “are brought to the attention of the persons concerned by all appropriate means throughout their territory”.

Awareness of support organisations, equality bodies, laws and campaigns addressing discrimination

(page 40) The level of awareness of organisations that offer support and advice in the case of discrimination is examined by asking respondents whether they recognise one or more of up to three preselected equality bodies. In addition, they are asked a general question on their awareness of any organisations that offer support or advice to people who have been discriminated against, regardless of the grounds of discrimination.

On average, and similarly to the findings of EU-MIDIS I, most respondents (82 %) are not aware of any such organisation in their country. In Portugal, Greece and Romania, almost none of the Roma surveyed know of such a support service or organisation, which could explain the low reporting rates. When prompted with a name of an organisation or an equality body, overall, 29 % of Roma respondents indicate that they recognise the organisation; results, however, vary by country.


On average, 36 % of Roma respondents know that there is a law prohibiting discrimination based on skin colour, ethnic origin or religion , while about one third (35 %) say that there is no such law, and 27 % do not know whether such legislation exists. The results differ considerably across countries, with the lowest awareness levels in Portugal.


The report is based on a survey that collected information in nine EU Member States, derived from nearly 8,000 face-to-face interviews with Roma. It is part of the Agency’s Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS II), which collected data on immigrants and ethnic minorities’ discrimination and victimisation experiences and income and living conditions in all 28 EU Member States.

More information available on FRA website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *