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Do Good Intentions Fail? Advancing Roma-Inclusion with the Use of European Structural Funds

Open Panel

Abstract

The European Union (EU) has introduced the Roma-Inclusion Strategy to its political agenda, demonstrating willingness to take a leadership role in addressing problems specific to Europe’s largest and most marginalized minority. It firmly prescribes that the administration and application of such strategy should be carried out with the ‘full-use’ of the Community’s financial instruments, the Structural Funds (SF). However, major stakeholders assert that the large subsidies provided by the EU barely reach the intended target groups. Considering the urgency of the Roma predicament it is of utmost importance to investigate why ambitious funding scheme endorsed by the EU is largely ineffective. The paper utilizes the concept of policy design, formulated in policy implementation literature to investigate the role that multi-level design of SF programming has in facilitating or hindering the implementation of Roma-inclusion objectives within regional spending agendas. This approach is rendered in response to my postulation that the design of SF programming may not always reflect or properly address the problematic of the Roma-inclusion targets leaving them largely outside of the SF spending schemes. The paper also presents concepts of substantive representation and devolution embedded in governance literature in order to identify who represents Roma interests and where, followed by the scrutiny of what kind of strategy these actors use to articulate and influence policy change. This approach aspires to investigate my postulation that the provisions to involve more Roma representatives inside SF programming do not directly lead to a better articulation of interests and needs specific to Roma communities.