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European Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
Urgent action for Roma integration
Statement in Pressroom /Brussels
26 June 2013
The Recommendation we have proposed today underlines our continuing commitment to addressing the exclusion suffered by Roma both in terms of poverty and discrimination.
The statistics are startling: four out of five Roma people in the EU live in poverty. Only one in three is working. And only one out of two Roma children attends pre-school or kindergarten.
The Commission has highlighted the most important priorities for targeting EU and national funds on effective Roma inclusion.
Member States – especially those with large Roma communities – must urgently and forcefully promote effective equal access for Roma to quality inclusive education and to the labour market. Otherwise they will not close the gap between Roma and non-Roma and so fail to meet their Europe 2020 targets in the fields of education, employment and poverty reduction.
On 29 May the Commission proposed Roma-specific Recommendations for five Member States - Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. These Member States need to ensure that their large Roma communities have access to quality inclusive mainstream education from their early childhood onwards and/or promote activation measures that support their transition to the labour market.
Member States must also ensure the effective delivery of National Roma Integration Strategies and mainstream them into their poverty and social investment policies.
Mainstreaming is vital if we are to see sustainable results. Integration strategies cannot remain standalone initiatives isolated from, and sometimes undermined by, mainstream policy measures.
Implementing Roma inclusion measures is vital at both national and local level. Improvements to Roma's lives will only come from effective investment in the economic and social development of the regions where many Roma people live.
Civil society, including representatives of Roma communities, has an important role at all levels in designing, implementing and monitoring Roma inclusion measures. They themselves - together with National Roma Contact Points - must be involved in the current planning of the use of EU funds for 2014-2020.
It is clear that we have a long way to go but I believe that this proposal is an important step towards better Roma integration and inclusion.