10-12 million Roma people live in Europe, half of them in EU countries. Nevertheless, there's hardly any Roma person working in the EU institutions have a considerable impact on their lives.
Despite the fact that the Roma are Europe's largest ethnic minority, they have virtually no impact on policies made in Brussels -- not even those aimed at changing the lives of Roma citizens.
To fix this problem, more than a decade ago, the European Commission opened an internship program -- financed by the Open Society Foundation -- preparing Roma youth for future jobs at European institutions.
The program was eventually disbanded because it failed to have an impact. No matter how hard the young Roma professionals worked during the traineeship, they still didn't secure jobs in Brussels later on. Why?
Ginger Hervey and Saim Saeed investigated the issue in an article published by POLITICO Europe. According to them, there were other reasons apart from outright discrimination.
The job candidates were expected to speak multiple languages, have advanced degrees and, at first, volunteer or take up poorly paid internships.
This was not an option for many of the Roma trainees who came from poor villages in Central and Eastern Europe and didn't benefit from private school education or additional tutoring that many of the successful candidates had access to growing up. They had to help out families back home therefore couldn't afford to work for free.
The traineeship was closed and didn't get replaced with any other option, and hence the number of Roma people employed in EU offices in Brussels remains so low that it could be counted on the fingers of one hand (according to an interviewee quoted in the article). Sadly, it doesn't seem likely to change in the near future.