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Tackling the Social Exclusion of Roma through Legal Inclusion? Trends and Issues Arising from European Courts and Monitoring Bodies

Sara Memo

A holistic approach addressing the social inclusion of Roma in Europe has started to enter the European policy agenda only recently. In particular, the adoption of a EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020 has called upon Member States to strongly commit for the socio-economic inclusion of Roma through active policies. While at the legal level any parallel approach addressing the social inclusion of Roma from a comprehensive perspective has not developed yet, European jurisprudence and legal opinion are increasingly considering cases of violations of Roma rights as "systemic patterns" of their exclusion. This paper critically considers both political and legal trends currently addressing the topic of social inclusion of Roma in Europe. The discussion focuses more specifically on the possible pathways of social inclusion of Roma arising from European jurisprudence and legal opinion. The analysis shows that social exclusion derives and - at the same time - underlies legal exclusion. Thus, the cross-examination of these two parallel trends may contribute to shed some light on the processes of mutual influence characterizing the social-legal ex/in-clusion of Roma in Europe. In conclusion, opportunities of Romani empowerment ensuing from the joint consideration of these two trends are critically discussed.

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