Decade Watch: Results of the 2009 Survey
Monday, 18 October 2010

Decade Watch, an initiative of Roma activists supported by the Open Society Foundations and the World Bank, has issued Decade Watch: Results of the 2009 Survey, its third report assessing government action toward implementing commitments made under the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005–2015.

The two previous Decade Watch reports, published in 2007 and 2008, assessed the Decade Action Plans, the institutional arrangements for implementing those plans, and government measures in place in the Decade's four priority areas: education, employment, health and housing.

With the 2009 report, Decade Watch changed its focus from evaluating these "inputs" to providing an assessment based upon the independent—and subjective—opinions of 300 experts, who commented on both the current situation of Roma in their countries and progress made in the integration of Roma over the last five years.

The questionnaire they answered focused on the Decade's priority areas and also posed questions regarding the involvement and participation of Roma in the policy process, levels of integration and discrimination, the priorities of Roma-related policy and the gender-sensitivity of measures introduced by governments.

Experts - "Inputs" Do Not Equal "Impact"

In the 2009 report's overall ranking, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Spain, two of the countries that joined the Decade in 2008 and 2009, are at the top of the table, along with Serbia.

Slovakia received by far the worst ranking, followed by the Czech Republic and Hungary. While Hungary and the Czech Republic received the best assessments in the first Decade Watch report in 2007, they were assessed negatively in the 2009 survey. In other words, the experts identified only a limited impact from government inputs in these two countries.

On the other hand, while government inputs in Serbia were given a low assessment in 2007 report, the impact of inclusion measures in Serbia was assessed more favorably by the experts in 2009.

Among the questions posed in the survey was "How do you assess the impact of the Decade of Roma Inclusion in your country?" Respondents gave the best assessments to two of the newer Decade countries: Albania and Spain. In general, the Western Balkans countries tended to receive more positive assessments, while in the five Decade countries that are also EU member states were given more neutral assessments.

Taking into account that far more financial resources are available in the EU member states than in the Decade countries undergoing the accession process, the report suggests that this situation reflects the disappointment of experts in the EU member states that increased financial resources for Roma inclusion did not produce significant results. It also suggests that in countries that are not yet EU member states, which have fewer resources at their disposal, there is a higher appreciation for modest achievements.

The 2009 Decade Watch survey, the authors suggest, supports the idea that a comprehensive approach and efficient structures for implementation, not just financial resources, are necessary for successful Roma inclusion policy.