The EU's cohesion policy - one of the most important "promises" of EU membership for economically less developed candidate countries - has been promoted as the most 'adequate' policy tool for elevating socio-economic exclusion of Roma minorities. The paper advocates question to what extent the lessons of the PHARE programme have been learned and incorporated into Roma initiatives during the current programming period (2007-2013). It argues that many problems identified during the accession process still have not been resolved and that after more than a decade of sustained EU funding and other assistance for Roma programmes, both before and after enlargement, the situation of most Romani communities remains basically unaltered or is even deteriorating. By examining the experience of three new EU member states - Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia - the paper seeks to make proposals regarding the best use of Instruments for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) funds for Roma integration in current pre-accession countries. Thereby, it seeks to analyze whether and in what way the use of EU funding for Roma integration was different in the pre-accession and the post accession periods - and whether or not these experiences are fully applicable to the countries of the Western Balkans now aspiring for membership. It also considers how the upcoming new legislative framework of the IPA programme could be exploited to make best use of the instrument, and what the European Union could do to facilitate that.
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