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The European Commission intends to maintain a regular dialogue and close co-operation with all stakeholders active in the field of Roma inclusion. In line with this approach, Commissioners Viviane Reding (justice, fundamental rights and citizenship) and László Andor (Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) co-organised a roundtable meeting with EU civil society representatives, in order to have a thorough exchange of views on progress (or the lack of it) made on Roma integration and to ensure better European coordination. EPHA represented the public health civil society and among other issues, highlighted the importance of including the issue of access to care in the EU Framework for National Roma integration strategies.

The roundtable discussion focused on the progress made since the publication of the 2012 Commission report and on the next steps including the 2013 Progress report and a draft Council Recommendation.

Another of the meeting’s goals was to listen to the civil society’s views on the implementation of the EU Framework of National Roma Integration Strategies by EU Member States.

Opening remarks of the Commissioners (VIDEO)

Statements of the Commissioners

EPHA’s messages to the Commissioners

To urge the EU Commission to include access to care in the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS).

  • To encourage the EU and its Member States to further support civil society and Roma organisations in promoting Roma’s human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, the right to a healthy lifestyle and the right to work.
  • To increase the number of Roma individuals involved in the development of healthcare policies, programme planning and the provision of healthcare services.
  • To pay close attention to the importance of ensuring equal access to social services and basic care infrastructure, such as child care and care of the elderly, and invites Member States to consider access to these services for vulnerable groups.
  • To take into account the specific health protection needs of vulnerable groups, such as Roma, In this regard, there is a need to step up training initiatives enabling doctors and other professionals, such as health mediators, to adopt an intercultural approach based on the recognition of, and respect for, diversity and the sensitivities of people from different geographical regions.

EPHA highlighted the importance of the lack of appropriate data
and information regarding Roma population in Europe, which represents a substantial barrier for policy elaboration, programming and policy impact assessment. During the roundtable, EPHA also stressed the importance of looking beyond a GDP-based approach when measuring societal, community and individual development

Background

Roma are Europe’s largest ethnic minority with about 10 to 12 million people living on the continent. For decades, if not centuries, they have been on the receiving end of racism, discrimination and social exclusion. More often than not, they live in abject poverty and lack proper access to healthcare and decent housing. According to World Bank estimations, the vast majority of working-age Roma lack sufficient education to participate in the labour market. Besides the devastating social effects of this labour divide, European countries are losing hundreds of millions of Euros annually in productivity and in fiscal contributions.

In the Roma framework, all Member States were expected to present to the European Commission a national strategy for Roma inclusion, or sets of policy measures within their social inclusion policies, for improving the situation of Roma people.

The European Commission assessed these strategies and published its conclusions in its Communication “National Roma Integration Strategies: a first step in the implementation of the EU Framework “ , adopted on 21 May 2012.

The national strategies are available on-line.

Related article:

European Roma Information Office (ERIO) at the Round-table meeting with European Commission

 

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