Contrasts in Bulgaria

A morning in Sofia, Bulgaria, July 2014

A working experience close to Sofia, during my original training path to become an engineer, has led me to question our way of life in Europe, and how to participate to the integration of fragile communities around us. In the way to work, a morning in July 2014, I was shocked by the contrasts you could in fact easily meet in the Bulgarian streets.

I was shocked to see a luxury English car registered locally, and a few meters away, a more fragile member of the ‘Roma’ community, using an animal-drawn vehicle.


Roma communities and populations are an integral part of the European community, and identity. The first groups of populations, identifiable as ‘Roma’, have migrated to the European territory in the 14th and 15th centuries. The same community, being calledwith the expressions Tsiganes in French language, Zigeuner in German, Sigoyner in Norwegian, Zingnar in Swedish, Zingari in Italian or Ciganos in Portugeuse; used to describe a population whose distant roots are considered to be located in the Indian subcontinent. Roma community was historically using a dialect close to Sanskrit, and have migrated throughout Europe depending on the local opportunities. Roma communities have experienced throughout their history different types of persecution or deportation orders, established to prevent Roma communities to permanently and durably settle among existing communities. Living among hostile societies, to move on in a search of a warmer welcome has since been in the identity of Roma communities. Troubled periods, economic difficulties in a given country or community is pushing Roma populations to look for new opportunities and a warmer welcome among others communities. Roma families and groups were also forcibly moved or relocated during the first half of the 20th century, and were subject to persecution because of their identity.

Roma populations are generally semi-nomads, either living in mobile or easily convertible accommodations: nomadism is thus partly structural. Populations are moving due to an economic organisation or a desire for travel. This desire can also be the consequences or caused by others: expulsion or forms of containment (imprisonment and various bans…) and historical persecution led Roma populations to keep moving for their safety.  

The Roma migration, sometimes called Gypsy communities, is also the symbol of the consequences of the Berlin wall fall and European Union construction process: the opening of European borders meant for the populations new opportunities to escape misery or persecution, in their native environment.

The historical and political context has led Roma populations to live in communities, creating a form of ‘antipathy’ among populations. A form of contemptuous criticism or rejection can be met, enhancing the desire to live in community. The uncertain atmosphere has led to a continuation of a lifestyle at the margin, but which becomes increasingly complicated for these populations to maintain.  

The mobile and adaptive lifestyle persists, whether it is in spirit or practice. In the context of a changing and evolving society, the question will be the conditions required to guarantee this way of life to populations, or accompany them towards a more sedentary lifestyle and habits. The adopted strategies have to be implemented taking into account the apparent dilemma of a nomadic way of life, and the required conditions to ensure learnings.

In order for these populations to freely and consciously choose to maintain this way of life, or adapt to others communities; the question will be which strategies to establish for the young generations to have their own choice. The paper will start by focusing on the solutions proposed on the European scale.

The tools and strategy established in France will be assessed, more specifically methods used in the early ages at school in the education system, and the limits this strategy is demonstrating.

The frame of the paper will be the situation in France, and be used for the 15th European Platform for Roma inclusion, organized the 25 and 26 October 2022, in Prague – Czech Republic. Czech Republic will hold the rotating six-months Presidency of the European Union for the second 2022 semester, and plan to use the ‘EPRI’ for ‘European Platform for Roma Inclusion’, to ‘bring together national governments, the EU, international organizations and Roma civil society’, according to the Program for the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The platform will meet the 25 and 26 of October 2022, at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in Prague, Czech Republic. The conclusion of the meeting will then be assessed, and possible solutions identified.

This paper is organised to try to find answers to the following questions:

  • RQ1: A strategy on a European scale as the right approach?
  • RQ2: Which specific tools and strategy are developed in France in the Roma education processes? What are the limits?
  • Research objective: The objective is to be able to identify measures and tools that can be established for the ‘European Platform for Roma Inclusion’, fourth 2022 quarter in Prague.

RQ1: A strategy organized on an European scale as the right approach?

In 2011, the European Commission adopted an EU framework for national Roma integration strategies, for the period 2020-2030. The goal of this framework if to favor national Roma integration, by promoting an equal access to education, employment, health and housing. The observation is that, not all Roma community members are socially excluded, but all can experience a form of discrimination or disempowerment. The long-term objective of the implemented measures is to ensure an effective equality, and the close the gap between Roma and the general population.

An effort to improve sensibilization on the Roma population situation needed

The Roma community population is estimated in 2012 from 10 to 12 million persons on the Continent (Council of Europe 2012 estimates). The European Commission has adopted in 2011, an ‘EU framework for national Roma integration strategies’, planned to last up to 2020. The objectives of this strategy are to promote an equal access to education, employment, health and housing, for the whole EU population, and is mostly dedicated to the Roma minority. Despite a voluntarist approach of the EU authorities, progresses are still limited in the daily life of the population. The method used by the European Commission to improve life for members of the Roma community is to set common objectives on the whole Union dimension, then at the national level, governments of the member states have the responsibility to achieve these objectives.

The targets concerning education have progressed the most, by reducing school-leasing and compulsory schooling and improving attendance to courses. As a whole, there has been some reduction in discrimination experience among Roma, and increased acceptance by the general population. But ‘antigypsinism, hate crime, trafficking is still an importance concern for authorities.

A possible solution chosen by the European Commission is to favor Roma equality by inclusion and participation at both the European, and national level. Specific tools such as conferences on specific issues met by members of the Roma community (‘Conference on anti-gypsism’, ‘how to address anti-Gypsism in a post-2020 EU Roma framework?’), were tools to identify recommendations.

Before to be able to identify recommendations, the first step what is sometimes called the “gypsy’ stigma”. This stigma led thousands of qualified Roma to remain invisible. In order for the difficulties Roma population to remain visible, the general population need to become and stay aware of their stories and situations. A possible tool, is seen in the awareness-raising campaigns, that could be a potential solution to motivate young Roma to join professional development paths.

Throughout their lives, Roma living in segregated areas remain unaware of their rights, and lack access to reporting and possibilities to raise their voice. In the health sector for example, procedures to answer patients complains (informed consents in clinical settings or eligibility criteria) remain tools rarely used by Roma.

For the Roma community to involve and be part of a society, anti-discrimination legislation has to be ensured, to effectively ensure access to justice. Such goal can be achieved by organizing activities and supporting projects to raise awareness with specific targets such as teachers, headmasters, judges, civil servants, politicians, prisons and members of the police force.

The fight against discriminations has to be transmitted to societies as a whole. Schools and education are unfortunately not the only place Roma populations are facing inequalities and discrimination. To raise awareness among populations as a whole, will be done through the recognition of the role of the media in the spread of a form of ‘hate speech’. Arts, history and culture will then be a way for the Roma community to exchange within local communities and spread positive images among the general population. The fight against the form of discrimination Roma population is facing has to be part of a wider fight against all the forms of discrimination European population as a whole is facing. Indeed, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has conducted surveys, highlighting the striking levels of discrimination the European minorities are facing: about 22% of respondents felt discriminated due to their ethnic origin or immigrant background. The form of racism Roma population is living has to be understood as one of the difficulties minority populations is living.

A strategy organized on an European scale as a possible solution

The objective of a European scale in favor of the Roma population, is to ensure the members of this minority can use their potential, and contribute to the economy and society. Such an ideal would lead to be better social and economic outcomes for countries as a whole.

Incitation for the member states to include in their national framework ‘ambitious commitments’, and lead to economic independence and development of the community. But the chosen measures do not have to be too concentrated on the economic aspect. In order to be accepted, applied and lead to effective changes in population life, the dilemma economic aspect & development / humanity has to be taken into account. A solution could be to work and act in parallel to the development of the Roma ‘identity’, recognize it, and be able to identify the Roma contributions to the European community as a whole. The Commission has identified tools such as activities dedicated to the” promotion of ‘positive’ narratives and Roma models, combatting negative stereotypes, raising awareness on Roma history and culture, and promoting truth and reconciliation, used as a ‘platform’. The final goal would be to increase the influence of the European Roma platform, to be able to bring together national governments, the European Union, international organizations and Roma civil society representatives.

The Commission has identified 7 objectives that would allow by 2030, to “ensure an effective equality, inclusion and participation”, and to effectively include the Roma population in the European community:

  • Fight and prevent antigypsyism and discrimination.
  • Reduce poverty and social exclusion to close the socio-economic gap between Roma and the general population.
  • Promote participation through empowerment, cooperation and trust
  • Increase effective equal access to quality inclusive mainstream education
  • Increase effective equal access to quality and sustainable employment
  • Improve Roma health and increase effective equal access to quality healthcare and social services
  • Increase effective equal access to adequate desegregated housing and essential services

Controls have to be led in parallel, in order to ensure the available funding effectively reaches members of the Roma community. Members of the Roma community are too often victims of a form of ‘hate speech’ or ‘conspiracy theories. A joint campaign with the UNESCO could be a way to promote a more positive image among communities and populations. Such campaigns could be a way to promote a guidance to better meet challenges and issues to come: with limitations the coronavirus containment measures has imposed on populations, populations were not able to access their usual products proposed by members of the Roma community. To ensure a digital inclusion, ensure access to basic needs (access to reliable sources of water, electricity and telecommunication networks) among communities, could be a way to maintain dialog and exchange between communities.

EU Roma Strategic framework: 7 targets for equality, inclusion and participation for 2020-2030 – Communication from European Commission and the Council

Importance of the Roma population inclusion

On the 19th June 2021, in the Czech city of Teplice, the young Stanislav Tomáš has died during a police intervention, when one of the police officers kneeled on his neck for several minutes. Stanislav was a member of the local Roma community. Police misconduct, ethnic profiling and brutality are a very materialisation of a form of an institutional widespread racism.

At the 14th Platform for Roma Inclusion, on the 20 and 21 of September 2021, participants raised the issue of a lack of equal access to Justice for Roma population. By identifying and tackling the root causes of health inequality, would be a way to effectively answer issues met by these populations. But Roma participants voiced concerns that these plans and objectives may have little impact on Rom, if none targeted approach with specific measures has been identified.

Then, the implementation of measures can in itself be an issue. Indeed, data collection and monitoring has proven to be difficult. In order to realise the quantitative required studies, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) is committed to conduct discrimination and minority surveys of the Roma in the member states.

The need for a reliable system for data collection and transfer could be a solution to help transfer and the skill for data collection to the member states. In order to ensure the quality of the data generation process, member states need to be willing to and capable of establishing transparency. This need is expected to be achieved by timely and meaningful reporting against the targets and actions set in the national strategies and plans.

              The European Platform for Roma inclusion can be understood as an opportunity to exchange and share experience, enhancing the possibilities for inclusion of Roma people in the European Union, and the potential enlargement.

A post-Covid moment as an opportunity to re-consider Roma populations

The European Union has adopted on 14th December 2020, a post-pandemic recovery plan, dedicated to favor a ‘smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs; social and territorial cohesion; health and resilience; and policies for the next generation, including enhancing education and skills. The objectives of the plan are dedicated to 5 major areas, which are Environment, Digitalization Health, Youth and Equality. The goal is for the ‘NextGenerationEU’ tool to create a lasting recovery, implement and improve the economic and social resilience. By adopting a voluntarist post-covid recovery plan, the Commission wish to improve cohesion among its members and populations.

The ideal of cohesion is understood as a tool to improve equality between its members. The NextGenerationEU plan wish to reach an ideal for equality, as stated in the plan: “we want all Europeans to have equal opportunities, whoever they are and wherever the live. We want to celebrate diversity in all its forms”.

In order to reach an effective equality for populations, the Commission has identified several objectives. The first one being an efficient fighting against racism and xenophobia. By promoting gender equality, the Commission wish to achieve women’s empowerment. The Commission has identified need of the LGBTQI+ community, the necessity to protect its rights and combat discrimination. Finally, the need to strengthen the EU laws combating all forms of hate speech and hate crime has been identified.

The notion of equality also concerns economic and social opportunities. The access for work concerns the private domain and civil society. For the plan to be effective for the Roma community members, require to be able to improve the first step, for teaching and schooling conditions. But the strategy will be effective on the long term only if the guided path, then effectively opens new opportunities and doors. Such a goal could be achieved through concertation between EU-level civil society, international organizations and the identified needs of the private sector, to be able to answer the community expectations and needs.

The European Union sees itself as much more than a free trade area

With an idea of a wider Europa, as described by James Wesley Scott (Scott, 2006), the notion of political integration will consider solutions to integrate and links the economic, social and increasingly, cultural issues. The emerging of new and local concerns, such as over environmental safety, climate change, crime prevention, economic development, post-pandemic recovery, external political tensions; is requiring to be able to cooperate, and lead common projects and policies. An essential tool to be able to lead common projects, would be the promotion of a friendly and effective relationships among Member states, and neighboring regions. To act in favor, and effectively change the daily life of the European Roma community, would be a first accomplishment in the demonstration of this will.

               The political will has led the European Commission to consider the need for the stabilization of neighboring countries, trough economic development and employability. This stabilization is considered to be effectively possible through solutions and improvements for youth, transport and energy connectivity, mobility and security. External events in the last years in neighboring countries has demonstrated the importance of interdependence with externally close countries.

              The promotion of an European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) would be a tool to realize the stabilization of the countries directly involved by current upheavals, disproportionally affecting Roma populations living in these regions, and being the first to suffer. Such a tool would be a way to think UE as a continent, not only through its member state. By promoting good governance, rule of law and human rights, considered to be key European Union interests, would be a way to ensure the conditions populations are benefiting in their close environment and daily life.

How to create concrete improvements in the Roma population situation?

              Launched in 2004, the European Neighborhood Policy (‘ENP’) is seen as a tool to support and promote closer cooperation with neighboring countries, but this approach remains indeed limited. The original goal of the approach is to ‘help create the conditions for a positive development’ (European Commission, 2015). The ENP understand poverty, inequality, weak economic and social development and lack of opportunity as the roots of future instability.

              The ENP is considered as a tool ensuring the rule of law, and the independence and effectivity of justice systems. To reestablish trust in state institutions is understood as crucial tool to ensure social and economic stability.  In this context, the willingness to live in the margins of society is understood as a lack of confidence and trust in national authorities. Ensuring the rule of law would be a way to restore trust between fragile populations and authorities.

              The question of trust and confidence between populations and authorities will appear essential. Ensuring the populations to be able to effectively rely on a continuous material support, is considered to be the first step, then leading to further development or improvement in living conditions, that would then benefit community as a whole.

Effective anti-corruption limits and measures, is considered to be a solution allowing citizens to raise their voice, and appeal the courts of justice. Such an improvement in the access to justice for citizens, would be a solution to enhance economic governance, strengthen fiscal stability, and secure individual projects. Management and support of Roma population trainings for public workers, would be solution to ensure the Roma weakened populations will access the right advices and support when developing their projects.

In order to ensure the sustainability of measures and instruments established, cooperation with the International Financial Institutions will be required. In this context, involving tools such as the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (ERBD), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as well as international organizations focusing on the private sector development, is considered to be a solution to lead a growth benefiting all the populations. By promoting private business sector, the ENP is highlighting the need for economic and social development. 

Despite a proactive approach, the ‘European Neighborhood Policy’, there has seen very limited progress in the promotion of stability, security and prosperity in the close neighboring countries, understood as the initial goals. Despite some local positive developments, political context in the near neighborhood has severely undermined in specific countries: in the North Africa and Middle East with the consequences of Arab Spring and the rise and fall of ISIL, in the Eastern close vicinity with the violation of Ukrainian sovereignty. External events in the last years have demonstrated the importance of interdependence with neighboring countries. In order to effectively and concretely improve the access to education of Roma population, and the general living conditions of the Roma minority as a whole, strategies will have to be considered directly related with neighboring countries, not only state members.

European Structural and Investment Funds as tools to answer educational and spatial segregation

              The original strategy, established for the period 2007 to 2013, has demonstrated ‘mixed results in tackling segregation’ (Commission, Guidance for Member States on the European Structural and Investment Funds in tackling educational and spatial segregation, 2015), as admitted by the European Commission.

In order to effectively tackle inequalities European citizens are living, original factors and roots have to be identified. The discriminatory actions, and linked economic and demographic mechanisms, are identified and recognizable by the physical and social separations. Separation is understood as the unequal access to high-quality services.

Solving this access to services, would mean to improve the quality and availability of facilities and equipment in segregated settings. Investment on infrastructures is required, to effectively provide solutions to issues populations are meeting.

              But this effort won’t benefit populations, without identifying root causes of this segregation. Multiple types of segregation can be identified, recognizable by the physical or social separation. Tools and measures to realize effective ‘desegregation’: solutions to effectively guarantee an equal access to high-quality services, education, housing, labor market & health have to be identified. This specific measures and tools can be established within the frame of the ERDF (for European Regional Development Fund), of the ESF (for European Social Fund).

              In order for the inequalities to not perpetuate, the root causes of a form of segregation have to be identified. The European Commission has identified in one of it work (Commission, Guidance for Member States on the European Structural and Investment Funds in tackling educational and spatial segregation, 2015) that segregation is originally caused by a ‘variety of factors’, due to ‘discriminatory actions, economic and demographic mechanisms. The separation of a member of a marginalized group, from member of non-marginalized group is considered to be one of the root causes of the inequality’s perpetuation. In this sense, school can be understood as a way to fight marginalization of specific groups from an early age.

              The challenge will be to implement the right tools and solution to respond to the marginalization of the weakened populations, and effectively on the long-term inequalities. In that sense, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF), associated with efforts to improve education, would be effective tools and solutions to fight inequalities and eliminate segregation.

RQ2: Which tools and strategy are developed in France in the Roma education processes? What are the limits?

The Roma community is estimated from 300’000 to 400’000 persons in France today (Liégois, 2007). One of the main concerns of the different stakeholders involved in the education process, is school attendance: indeed, displacements and moves made by families, are interrupting the educational continuity and disrupting learnings.

An attempt to provide a concrete legal frame

The circular of the 2nd October 2012 (Circulaire n°2012-141 , 2012), is an attempt to provide a suitable solution in order to maintain continuity in the learnings and education. The text recalls that children living in the different of settlements, are subjected to the same obligation: “children living in settlements are subjected as all children from 6 to 16 years, are subjected to the same obligation: respect to formal education, school attendance, whatever their nationality.” These obligations need to be respected taking into account the length and parking arrangements imposed by the chosen way of life. The objective of the text is to encourage a regular school attendance, from the early stages, in nursery school, seen as an essential step in schooling. Early schooling is understood as a way to promote schooling and reduce future non-attendance at school. In order to provide an adapted solution for the way of life of Roma population, the problems and issues met by these populations have to be clearly identified.

The main one lies in the access to schools. Settlements and places of life are sometimes far from schools: solutions for school-busing have to be set up, in order to guarantee an equal and simple access to all the children in a school.

Schools and classrooms do not have the capacity to receive traveling or on the move new students at the beginning of the school year.  Schools’ administration needs to be reactive, in order to anticipate and plan the future needs.

Non-French speaking students need to be accompanied all along their path by personal, that are understanding the mother tongue of arriving students. Then, once students are independently participating and attending classroom instruction, the support may be lifted.

In order to ensure the integration of incoming students, schools administration must avoid to create ‘single-character’ classes. By favouring contact and exchange with sedentary families, will allow to create ‘ties’ between students and families.

Social support work with families will be a way to prevent any form of apprehension. Such a support will also be a way for the families to understand the importance of school attendance, its importance and necessity in the learning path.

Education as a tool to promote integration among national community

The adaptation efforts do not only concern students and families within minorities. Education as an administrative unit need to establish tools within national, academic, departmental and local levels.  The different institutions need to act with flexibility, adaptability with the different stakeholders among institutions and associative partners.

The weight of administrative procedure has to be reduced, ensuring a rapid integration among classes. The same work has to be done with schools related services (cafeteria for children’s lunches, school buses…).

The administrative timelines to realise for obtaining documents do not always correspond to school timelines. In order not to slow and penalize children learnings, a provisional admission needs to be made as soon as possible.

A family temporary hosting has no consequences on the right to education. Provisional admissions have to be organized, in order not to stop or delay learning processes. Schooling has to be organized in the school district, in order to favour social contacts and intermingling between children.

A follow-up will be ensured by CASNAV agencies (for ‘Centre Académique pour la Scolarisation des élèves Allophones Nouvellement Arrivés), based in each academic sector. The objectives of these agencies, are to lead missions for pedagogical expertise and mediation missions between families and academic and departmental authorities. Finally, a resource and training centre is made available in order to ensure an adequate training and dissemination of adapted teaching materials usable by teachers.

‘No distinction can be made […] for access to public education service’

              ‘No distinction can be made between students of French or foreign nationality for access to the public education service’. ‘Education is mandatory for the children of both sexes, aged between six and sixteen years, whether French or foreign, from the moment they reside on French territory.’ The international convention on the rights of the child, ratified on the 20th of November 1989 by France, guarantees the right to education, apart from any distinction based on nationality or personal situation. The reality is brutally different.

According to the figures by the DIHAL (‘Délégation Interministérielle à l’hébergement et à l’accès au logement’), about 12 300 persons intra-European migrants (MORCH, December 2021) are living in informal settlements in France. Taking into account all nationalities living in the hexagon, the figure reaches 22 000 persons. According to the DIHAL, between 4000 and 4500 minors of European nationality are living in France, and 3125 were attending school in December 2021, with 70% of them never having been at school, or have dropped out of school. In 2019, the association Askola estimated that about 10 000 children (MORCH, December 2021) were living in informal conditions, 80% of whom were out of school. According to the UNICEF, about 8000 children are living in informal settlements in France.

Political authorities are estimating that ‘it is not possible to more accurately identify the profile of these population’ (MORCH, December 2021), admitting failure to completely and totally take charge by the national authorities, half-confessing the failure in the strategy rolled out in France.

Research objective: The objective is to be able to identify measures and tools that can be established for the ‘European Platform for Roma Inclusion’, fourth 2022 quarter in Prague.

On 12 March 2021, the council of the EU has adopted a Recommendation on Roma equality, inclusion and participation. By adopting an approach based on 3 pillars, for ‘Equality’, ‘Inclusion’ and ‘Participation’; the Council of the European Union is expecting to effectively improve life of the Roma community members in the political, social, economic and cultural life. Such a framework would then be a solution to improve inclusion of Roma people in the education domain, and then employment, considered to affect housing and health conditions for this population. The Recommendation is requiring minimal targets and goals to be achieved by 2030. 

Despite a proactive approach, a strengthened and shared commitment by the population as a whole is necessary to tackle persistent discriminations the Roma population is too often living. Education is the area that progressed the most, notably by reducing early school-leaving, or improving participation in the early childhood education. The model deployed in France has proved to be beneficial for children benefiting, but the system has also demonstrated its limits when considering long term integration among national communities.

National strategies have reached their limits. to consider solutions that would effectively achieve their targets, the European scale could in this case be a pertinent solution.

To effectively reduce the poverty risk, ensure the improvement of housing situation, will require an organized and structured approach to ensure benefits made at school will benefit the community as a whole. By promoting participation, through the empowerment, cooperation and trust of the Roma community members, is considered to be the key that would promote Roma political, economic and cultural engagement. In order to guarantee the needs of the diverse groups present on a specific territory, member states will need to develop quantitative and/or qualitative targets, dedicated to the improvement in the life of Roma communities.

              A possible tool to raise the awareness of communities as a whole about Roma community conditions is to rely on actors who are directly involved in the daily life of the community members. The ‘European Platform for Roma Inclusion’ event was an opportunity for these voices to be heard, despite the fact that the participants recognize the limits of the current approach. The participants call for a “closer, deeper and more meaningful exchange between all stakeholders” (Alliance, 2022), as a “crucial part of Roma inclusion” (Alliance, 2022).


The strategy set up in the Roma population integration in France has proved to be partly beneficial for those who benefit, offering tools to its beneficiaries to then lead and build their projects. But this strategy has also demonstrated its limitations. Indeed, the Roma population mobility can be seen as an obstacle to the continuity of learnings.

In order to effectively promote education of Roma population, a form of respect for the desire for mobility the population has to be demonstrated, that would allow effective integration among European communities. The ‘European Platform for Roma Inclusion’ (EPRI) organized the 25 and 26th of October 2022 in Prague, Czech Republic, can be understood as an opportunity to bring solutions and tools to guarantee the continuity of learnings and schooling despite displacements, whether they are desired or not.

To ensure such objectives could be ensured by the ‘Erasmus’ study program, led by the European Union, for young people, on the European territory. The European Union is planning for the period 2021-2027, to use the Erasmus program as a tool to promote inclusion and diversity, by “focusing on people with fewer opportunities, including those with disabilities, educational difficulties, or a migrant background, as well as those living in rural and remote areas” (Commission, Erasmus+ 2021-2027 Enriching lives, opening minds, 2021). By opening the Erasmus program to the youth with a more difficult path ahead, would allow these populations to progress upward, and develop a form of mutual support among others European communities.

              To consider difficulties European populations are meeting when leading their projects within inner borders, the European Union is planning to leave progressively barriers. On the 18th October 2022, a vote at the European Parliament has largely adopted a resolution in favor of the Schengen membership of Romania and Bulgaria. The European Parliament’s resolution may not be binding, but the Czech Presidency of the Council is planning to conduct debates on the subject before the end of 2022. In the case of adoption of such a resolution, travel restrictions affecting populations I have met in Bulgaria could be lifted, offering new opportunities for these populations in difficulty in Bulgaria, new opportunities to improve their environment and opportunities to access adapted education systems offering equal chances to every European citizen.

In order for all the European populations to benefit of equal opportunities, awareness as to be raised and taught from the early ages. The risk being that this will only remain wishful thinking…


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Commission, E. (2020). A Union of Equality: EU Roma strategic framework for equality, inclusion and participation. Bruxelles.

Commission, E. (2021). Erasmus+ 2021-2027 Enriching lives, opening minds. Luxembourg: Publications office of the European Union.

European Commission, H. R. (2015). Review of the European Neighborhood Policy. Brussels.

Liégois, J. P. (2007). Roma in Europe. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.

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