Címlap English Annual report urges EU members to use available funds to implement policies

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Annual report urges EU members to use available funds to implement policies PDF Nyomtatás E-mail
Írta: Administrator   
2015. június 24. szerda, 06:18

EU member states have made progress in Roma integration, but there is still plenty of work to be done, according to the annual European Commission report released June 18.

The Roma people are Europe’s largest ethnic minority; about 6 million of them currently live in the EU.

“Roma inclusion is a key political priority for the EU. Roma continue to be discriminated against and marginalized from society. This year’s report shows that member states are starting to move in the right direction. However, we need more concrete results — especially at local level,” Czech politician Věra Jourová, the European commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, said in a press release.

“Member states have to fight discrimination of Roma more actively and focus on elimination of hate crime and harmful stereotypes. We want to see Roma being treated equally, in schools, at their workplace, in housing and healthcare, just like other EU citizens,” she added.

Marianne Thyssen, commissioner for employment, social affairs, skills and labor mobility, said the European Commission actively supports Member States’ efforts to promote the integration of vulnerable groups, including Roma.

“We have made more than €90 billion available to promote social inclusion and fight discrimination from 2014 to 2020. I urge all member states to act at national, regional and local levels to make full and efficient use of the funds and help the Roma community gain better access to jobs, education, housing and healthcare," Thyssen said.

EC vice president Frans Timmermans, responsible for the rule of law and the charter of fundamental rights, agreed. “Equal treatment and fundamental rights are at the very heart of the European project. Roma have faced a long history of exclusion. In Europe, no one must face discrimination on account of their ethnic or racial origin. It is time we step up our efforts to fight anti-Gypsyism, and promote the full inclusion of Roma,” he said.

Countries in the 28-member bloc have banned discrimination against the group, but Roma are still often subject to prejudice and social exclusion.

In 2011, each EU country established a plan for integration, outlining specific policies and goals. Since then, they have released annual reports regarding areas that need improvement and overall progress.

One area where the report found improvement was several member states have established coordination structures for Roma integration, involving diverse stakeholders. National strategies are increasingly translated into local action plans, and the National Roma Contact Points are more closely involved in making the best use of EU funds.

Another positive move was that many member states have improved monitoring and reporting mechanisms at national and European level.

One problem cited in the report was a “worrying rise” in anti-Gypsyism, hate speech and hate crime. The Commission said it has stepped up its efforts to ensure correct implementation of anti-discrimination legislation toward Roma, including at local level.

Commissioner Jourová, also addressed the issue at the European Roma Platform this March.

“Our common goal is that Roma people are treated equally, just like everyone else. I want to see Roma enjoy equality in schools, at their workplace, in housing. To see them get healthcare when they need it. To see children play together, Roma and non-Roma, without fear or prejudice on either side,” she said.

“Unfortunately, this is not the situation we live in today. Many Roma are discriminated against. And many Roma experience intolerance and hatred, some on a daily basis,” she said.

These goals will be difficult to meet, as many Europeans hold unfavorable views of Roma people. Some 74 percent of Roma in the CzechRepublic feel discriminated against when looking for jobs, according to the Roma integration progress report.

The effects of intolerance reach Roma children as well, as many attend segregated schools or classes. More than 20 percent of children under 15 attend schools or classes for children with mental disabilities in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Despite the existing issues, progress in Roma integration has been made since its addition to the European political agenda in 2011.

“Never before has the framework for the European Structural and Investment Funds been so favorable to Roma integration – the money is there, so member states should use it,” said Jourová.

Cooperation between civil society and local authorities has been a focus for improvement, and plans that began at a national level are being implemented locally. Improvement in education, employment, healthcare, and housing for Roma are obvious goals. While they are consistent across the EU, each country tailors its strategy to its specific needs.

In Sweden, for example, the Adult Education Association in Gothenburg offers tuition to Roma who haven’t completed primary or secondary school.

Community Development Centers (CDC) in Bulgaria promote employment among young people and women in marginalized Roma communities.

As for healthcare reform, Romania has started campaigns to raise awareness and change behavior regarding Roma health.

In Hungary, cities must prepare a desegregation plan. The European Regional Development Fund supports integrated housing projects for Roma and other marginalized communities.

While effort is being made to integrate Roma people across Europe, Roma must also make an effort to engage with the mainstream population. To achieve successful integration, all members of the EU (Roma or not) need to strive for a fair and peaceful coexistence.

Source: http://www.praguepost.com/eu-news/48419-ec-sees-some-progress-in-roma-integration

 

 

 
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