The Roma and Their Integration to the Labour Market: A Comparison between Hungary and Slovakia

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  • 1 Researcher at the European Academy of Bolzano, Minorities and Autonomies.

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  • 1 The number of those who belong to the Roma community can on most occasions only be esti- mated. Even official sources attribute higher numbers to Roma than the figure indicated in census. For example, in Romania the 1991 census indicated 409,700 Roma, whereas human rights organizations and Roma groups themselves estimate the actual number of Roma as between 1.4 and 2.5 million, making it the largest Roma population in Europe. In Greece, Roma comprise approximately 3% of the population. In Poland there is a much smaller Roma community than in other central European states, and estimates range from 15,000-50,000. In the Czech Repub- lic official sources consider 0.3% of the population as belonging to the Roma community, but Minority Rights Groups say 2.9%. Also in Slovakia and Hungary there is a considerable gap between the numbers indicated by the official census and estimated real numbers. Source: Euro- pean Roma Rights Centre, http://www.errc.org.

  • 2 Unless otherwise indicated data was collected from the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, at http://www.ksh.hu. 3 The average level of unemployment in the EU 15 was 7.7% in 2002.

  • 4 Karoly Fazekas, "Effects of foreign direct investment on the performance of local labour markets: The case of Hungary", Institute of Economics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, WP 2003/3. 5 COM(2003)663, 4. 6 European Commission, "Employment in Europe 2003", at http://europa.eu.int/comm/employ- ment_social/employment_analysis/employ_2003_en.htm; and Government of the Slovak Republic and European Commission, "Joint Assessment of Employment Priorities in the Slovak Republic", 26 November 2001, at http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/employment_ analysis/japs/slovak en.pdf. 7 In the EU 15, the employment rate for the age group of 55 to 64 years was 42.8% in 2002.

  • 8 Bratislava has an employment rate of over 70%, whereas Kosice (eastern Slovakia) has a rate just over 50%. 9 See Office for National and Ethnic Minorities in Hungary, at http://archiv.meh.hu/nekh/defhu. htm (currently under reconstruction). 10 Government Resolution 2023/1999 (11.12.), Report of the Republic of Hungary, Implementation of the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, January 1999, 33-4. 11 COM(2002)700 Regular Report on Slovakia's Progress Towards Accession, at http://europa. eu.int/comn-L/enlargement/report2002/sk-en.pdf, 30.

  • 12 Government of the Slovak Republic and European Commission, Joint Assessment ..., 9. 13 Lexis Nexis UK, European Industrial Relations Review, November 2003, 29. As the EUobserver reported on 25 February 2004, recent reforms of the country's benefit system led to protests among the Roma communities. The reforms aimed at cutting the budget deficit and introduced several changes in the health and social benefit system. Roma are afraid of rising poverty due to the restriction measures and as a protest a number of robberies in shops and supermarkets and clashes of hundreds of Roma citizens with the police have occurred. The Slovak govern- ment ordered soldiers to help the police in restoring public order; at http://www.euobserver. com/index.phtml?aid=14597. 14 Joint Report of the European Union on social inclusion 13926/01 SOC 447; 12.12.2001, http:// europa.eu.int/comm/employment-sociaYsoc-prot/soc-incl/15223/partl-en.pdf, 11. 15 European Commission: A New Partnership for Cohesion. Third Report on Economic and Social Cohesion, February 2004, http://europa.eu.int/comm/regional-policy/sources/docoffic/officiaV reports/cohesion3/cohesion3_en.htm, 5.

  • 16 In most European countries since the second half of the 1990s more emphasis has been put on the promotion of active labour market policies and on the transformation of social benefit systems in order to give incentives to work. Suffice it to mention the "From welfare to work" programmes in the UK. The main objective of these measures has been to avoid situations when, in economic terms, being dependent on social benefits or taking up a job gave equal outcomes. Or, in some cases, job engagement might mean the loss of entitlement to benefits with the result of a lower income level. Most of the time the jobs in question are low paid, low skilled ones. 17 This practice has been sharply criticized on various occasions by international organizations. See in particular the comments of the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in relation to Article 6 of the Framework Convention regard- ing Hungary, at http://www.coe.int/minorities.

  • 18 Updated by the 1073/2001 (VII.13) Government Resolution and see also the 1078/2001 (VII. 13) Government Resolution on the approval and public discussion of the guiding principles of the long-term Roma strategy of the Government. 19 Strategy of the Government of the Slovak Republic for the Solution of the Problems of the Roma National Minority and the Set of Measures for its Implementation. Stage I was adopted by the Government Resolution No. 821 (27 September 1999); Stage II was adopted by the Gov- ernment Resolution No. 294 (3 May 2000). 20 Government Resolution No. 357 (10 April 2001) Priorities of the Government of the Slovak Republic with regard to Roma Communities for 2002. 21 Open Society Institute, "Monitoring the EU Accession Process: Minority Protection. An Assessment of Selected Policies in the Candidate Countries", 2002, at http://www.eumap.org/ reports/2002/minority

  • 22 Ibid., 560-8. 23 See, for example in the case of Hungary, the Regular Reports of 2001 and 2002 respectively at 23 and 32. http://europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/hungary/index.htm. Similar conclusions were drawn by the OECD report "Trends in International Migration", 2003, 82. 24 See at http://europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/report_2003/index.htm.

  • 25 Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 January 2000, Implementing the Principle of Equal Treat- ment Between Persons Irrespective of Race or Ethnic Origin, Official Journal L 180 (19 July 2000), 22. 26 See also, Gabor Kardos, Ures kagylóhéj? A sxociklis jogok nemxetkoxi vedelmenek egyes kerdesei (Budapest, 2003),104-5. 27 Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a General Framework for Equal Treatment in Employment and Occupation, Official Journal L 303 (2 December 2000) 16. 28 Act 2003: CXXV, published in the Official Gazette No.157/2003, 28 December 2003. 29 Article 13-6 of the Act 2003: CXXV. 30 Maria Frey, "A magyarorszagi munkaeropiacot érintö jogszabalyi es intezmenyi valtozasok", in Karoly Fazekas (ed.), Munkaeropiaci Tukor 2003 (Budapest, 2003),173-95, at 183. 31 Reported by European Industrial Relations Review, November 2003, 29.

  • 32 Government Resolution No. 127 (10 February 1999). 33 Open Society Institute, "Monitoring the EU Accession Process ... ", 542. 34 Lado Maria, "Building an Enlarged Europe: Introductory Thoughts on Convergence and Diver- sity", paper prepared for the 13th IIRA World Congress, 8-12 September 2003, Berlin, Ger- many, at http://www.fu-berlin.de/iira2003/papers/track_5/Plenary_Track 5 Lado.pdf, 12; and Manfred Weiss, "Enlargement and Industrial Relations: Building a New Partnership", 20(1) The International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations (2004), 5-26, at 8. 35 Mainly through structural interventions of the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund.

  • 36 The title on Employment was incorporated by the Amsterdam Treaty (Articles 125-9 EC). 37 Council Decision of 22 July 2003, European Employment Strategy, Official Journal L 197 (5 August 2003),13. 38 Yves Chassard and Alessandra Bosco, "emergence du concept demployabilite°, Droit Social (1998), 903-11, at 903-4.

  • 39 Marco Biagi, (continued by Michele Tiraboschi), Istituxioni di Diritto del Lavoro (Milano, 2nd ed. 2003), 324. 40 See at http://europa.eu.intlcomm/employmencsocial/employmencanalysis/japs3n.htm.

  • 41 Second Progress Report of the Joint Assessment of Employment Policy on implementing the medium-term priorities of Hungarian employment policy between May 2002 and April 2003, 30 April 2003, at http://www.fmm.gov.hu/download.php?ctag=download&docID=476,18-9. 42 Government of the Slovak Republic and European Commission, Joint Assessment ..., 34-6. 43 Open Society Institute, "Monitoring the EU Accession Process ...", 547. 44 Ibid., 248 and 261. 45 Government Resolution on the establishment of the Government Office for Equal Opportuni- ties, 222/203 (XIL12).

  • 46 Open Society Institute, "Monitoring the EU Accession Process ... ", 261.

  • 47 PHARE 2002/000-315.01.04 project (Hungary) Combating Exclusion from the World of Work. 48 Open Society Institute, "Monitoring the EU Accession Process ...", 562-3. 49 Order of the Minister of Labour and Employment, 13/2003 (X.10).

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