On 9 March, the European Parliament adopted a resolution that supports an EU-wide strategy to support the social inclusion of Roma communities. This comes a month before the Commission is due to present proposals on creating an EU framework for national Roma integration strategies for the EU`s 10 million Roma.
The resolution calls for binding minimum standards at EU level to improve access to employment, education, housing and healthcare for Roma, as well as better protection of fundamental rights and use of EU funding.
The Parliament’s rapporteur Lívia Járóka (EPP, HU) highlighted the progress made towards an EU-level effort to alleviate the poverty and social exclusion of our continent’s largest ethnic minority. “This EU-level strategy must place its primary emphasis on the fulfilment and promotion of the fundamental rights to employment, housing, health care and education”.
MEPs highlighted priority areas for action on authorities of all levels will need to take to integrate the Roma people.
Furthermore, there needs to be more hiring of Roma staff in public administration, an increase in the number of Roma teachers and efforts to make sure that Roma children receive education in their own language.
Another main point of the resolution was that EU funding could be used better to advance Roma integration, particularly the creation of EU bodies under the supervision of the existing Roma Task Force to secure EU funding in support of good local initiatives.
The Parliament also called for the scope of EU funding to be widened to include projects to improve public services. MEPs urged member states to develop strategies with participation of representatives of the Roma population, and to make use of all the financial resources available from the various EU funds, such as the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).Finally, dedicated funding should be allocated in the Cohesion Policy to support the strategy.
The Commission is expected to present its proposal on 5 April.
The Hungarian EU Presidency will host the fifth meeting of the European Platform for Roma Inclusion in Budapest on 7-8 April, which coincides with International Roma Day.
On 19 May, the Council of Ministers for employment, social policy, health and consumer affairs will meet in Gödöllő near Budapest, where they will be invited to adopt conclusions in response to the Commission’s proposals on an EU framework for national Roma integration strategies.
The European Council should adopt the Roma Inclusion Strategy at its meeting on 24 June.
For more information:
Roma: binding EU standards to integrate Europe’s largest minority