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Joint press conference by Vladimír Špidla, Rita Süssmuth, former President of the German Bundestag, and Viktória Mohácsi, Member of the EP, on the High Level Group on Ethnic Minorities (extracts)

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On 3 December 2007, an independent High Level Advisory Group of Experts on ethnic minorities presented eight policy recommendations to the Commission. Well aware of increasing social challenges, the Commission set up the group in January 2006. The aims were to identify barriers which hinder members of ethnic minorities from fully participating in the labour market and society in general and to highlight good practice in public policy and in enterprises. The most important challenges lie in the areas of education, employment, housing and health. The High Level Advisory Group of Experts thus recommends to make the inclusion of members of ethnic minorities into the society, in particular into the labour market, a priority of the political agenda; identify and address specific barriers to inclusion of members of ethnic minorities; establish a sustainable long-term policy for inclusive labour markets, using a targeted, but not ethnically segregated approach; support mutual learning by highlighting good practice, developing knowledge and strengthening the analytical tools; and focus specifically on the implementation of policies to improve the situation of Roma in terms of education, employment, health and housing. The Group identified 14 major barriers to labour market integration of ethnic minorities. These include the lack of qualifications as well as the lack of their recognition by EU Member States, lack of access to education and training, bureaucratic obstacles, disincentives through welfare systems, and - most importantly - stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination. These barriers tend to create vicious circles, reinforcing each other from generation to generation, if no effective action is taken. Examples of best practice in Member States show what is possible. Targeted ESF-funded programmes such as ACCEDER in Spain have been successful in raising the employability and employment rate of Roma. The London Metropolitan Police applies a positive action approach which permits the selection of a candidate with an ethnic minority background from a group of equally qualified candidates. Hungary has enacted legislation which aims at ending segregation in schools and it can be expected that this will mainly be to the benefit of Roma children. Sweden and the Netherlands both recognize qualifications acquired outside of the respective national systems.
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Type: EbS   Reference: 54827   Date: 03/12/2007   Duration: 00:03:36
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