Promoting Roma Inclusion

The European Parliament voted on 9 March for a non-legislative resolution on an EU-wide strategy to support the social inclusion of Roma communities.

The resolution, supported by the majority of MEPs is aimed at promoting targeted actions dealing with social and economic problems of the Roma minorities across Europe, calling for an EU strategy on Roma inclusion.

More specifically, the EP resolution calls on national governments to appoint high-level government officials to act as a national contact point to the implementation of the strategy at the local level, and calls on the Commission to:

  • adopt priority areas for the Strategy, above all fundamental rights, education, culture, employment, housing, healthcare, and participation of Roma in civil society;
  • present in the Strategy a roadmap for introducing binding minimum standards at EU level for the priority areas of education, employment, housing and healthcare;
  • define the objectives of the Strategy linked to the priority areas, inter alia by strengthening effective anti-discrimination legislation and ensuring access to quality education and access to the labour market.

The Roma minorities in Europe count as the largest ethnic minority with an estimated number of 10-12 million. The European Commission is due to present proposals on 5 April on creating an EU framework for national Roma integration strategies. The emphasis will be on encouraging the development of 27 national strategies, rather than one European strategy.

"There is a common European problem, but how it appears in various member states, and how it has to be translated into national strategies, differs from Romania to France, from Slovakia to Portugal, and we have to be aware of this," says László Andor, the EU commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. He emphasized that an approach based on national strategies is necessary in order to ensure ‘the diversity of the realities’ in different European countries.

The European Commission insists it should mainly be seen as the responsibility of national governments. Vice-President of the European Commission, Viviane Reding, promised that the Commission proposals for an EU framework for national Roma integration strategies would take into account ideas put forth by the Parliament while also consulting contributions from different Member States and civil society.