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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 2 October 2014

Commissioner Andor meets local authorities to discuss first results of ROMACT programme in favour of Roma inclusion

Mayors from cities in Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are meeting in Brussels today and tomorrow to take stock of progress and lessons learned in integrating Roma at the local level, in particular with the support of ROMACT, a joint programme of the European Commission and the Council of Europe.

European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor said: "Roma inclusion can only be achieved through national efforts combined with action at local level. This is why the EU supports local authorities in designing and implementing Roma integration projects and in applying for EU funding, through programmes such as ROMACT".

The conference on Roma inclusion on the ground - The ROMACT experience will give mayors an opportunity to explain how they promote inclusion of Roma and how ROMACT supports their efforts to overcome inequalities between Roma and non-Roma citizens in their municipalities. Mayors will present successful practices, including the following projects:

In Naples (Italy) the municipality has installed water pumps at the entrance of each Roma settlement. Access to water is of fundamental importance to improve the living conditions of Roma. Children can wash before going to school and the hygiene of the whole community has improved.

In Gyulaj (Hungary) the Mayor plans to build social housing. The municipality will provide the ground, students from Pécs University are drawing the building plans and EU funding will support the project. A mason brigade will be created, supported by the Hungarian public works scheme and the Hungarian Maltese Charity Service, to repair existing houses with the participation of the Roma.

In Jarovnice (Slovakia) the local government launched a project called Roma Civil Guard (Watch) to improve safety and lessen small criminality in the Roma settlement. The municipality has also started to build social housing for the most disadvantaged inhabitants in the Roma settlement.

In Varna (Bulgaria), the local government will allocate municipal funding for the creation of a community centre in the Asparuhovo district, next to a social housing estate for disadvantaged groups built with the financial support of the European Regional Development Fund. The community centre will support the social integration of Roma and non-Roma living in the district. The municipality will also train and hire two health mediators.

In Valea Seaca (Romania) the Mayor started to provide ID cards to Roma people. The local government has also allocated municipal resources to pave roads and provide electricity and sewage in the village of Palamida. It has also initiated a second chance programme, supported by the Roma Education Fund.

Background

The ROMACT programme is jointly funded by the European Commission and the Council of Europe. It was launched in October 2013 in about 40 municipalities in 5 countries (Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Italy) and will run until 2016 (see IP/14/193).

ROMACT is implemented in co-operation with national and local Roma NGOs who help generate projects and facilitate access to EU funds. It supplements the ROMED programme – also co-funded by the European Commission and the Council of Europe – which aims to improve local democracy through mediation with Roma communities.

This high level conference is an opportunity to recall what the European Commission has achieved to ensure the inclusion of Roma people:

  • In 2011, the European Commission put forward an EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies focusing on four areas (IP/11/789): access to education, jobs, healthcare and housing. This Framework aims at guiding national Roma policies and mobilising funds available at EU level, in particular the European Social Fund, to support integration efforts. All Member States have now adopted Roma integration strategies and policies.

  • The EU cannot achieve inclusive growth when part of its population is economically and socially marginalised. Under the European Semester process, the Commission therefore monitors national Roma integration strategies and their mainstreaming in education, employment and social-inclusion policy. The EU put forward country-specific recommendations to draw Member States’ attention to the areas of greatest need for the integration of Roma people.

  • The Commission provides guidance on ensuring financial resources allocated for social policy have greater impact. The Social Investment Package, adopted in 2013 (IP/13/125), gives the Member States guidance on improving the delivery of their social policies and systems and getting the best out of public investments in them.

  • 20% (€16 billion) of the European Social Fund available to Member States must be dedicated to fighting exclusion and poverty. Some of it must be used to integrate Roma and other marginalised groups.

  • This year the Commission reported on the application of the Racial Equality Directive which prohibits discrimination on the basis of racial or ethnic origin in the EU. Moreover, in safeguarding the fundamental rights of Roma people the Commission scrutinises national practices that affect the implementation of the principle of equal treatment.

For more information

Watch the ROMACT conference online

Roma integration in the 28 EU Member States (funding and national strategies):

László Andor's website

Follow @László AndorEU on Twitter

Subscribe to the European Commission's free e-mail newsletter on employment, social affairs and inclusion: http://ec.europa.eu/social/e-newsletter

Contacts :

Jonathan Todd (+32 2 299 41 07)

Cécile Dubois (+32 2 295 18 83)

For the public: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 or by e­mail


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