EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor, met today with the President of the Romanian Senate, Mircea Geoană, to discuss employment issues linked to the EU's Europe 2020 strategy, as well as labour law and social affairs.
On a working visit to Brussels, Mr Geoană also took the opportunity to present to Commissioner Andor the first conclusions drawn during the debate organised by the Romanian Senate on the EU Strategy on Roma Inclusion. In light of the forthcoming EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies, Commissioner Andor said: "We need to put in place territorial strategies to promote the social integration of Roma through better access to services and by increasing tailor-made support to help entry into the local labour market".
The Commissioner added: "The European Social Fund can help, for example, support the promotion of cooperatives that are adapted to the specific situation of Roma people. The new Microfinance facility is also an important tool to help the most vulnerable, including Roma people, find an alternative route out of joblessness".
During the senate President's visit, the Commissioner underlined in particular the important role of the European Social Fund (ESF) in achieving the EU's Europe 2020 poverty and employment goals. Mr Andor underlined that Romania still has a low rate of execution of ESF programmes and, unless difficulties like weak administrative capacity are urgently addressed, Romania runs the risk already in 2012 of losing out on significant amounts of money that could be otherwise invested in human capital, social services, active labour market measures, or social inclusion projects.
The Commissioner also highlighted the need for Romania, like all Member States, to make better use of EU funds for the integration of Roma people. Romania can receive up to €3.6bn from the ESF over the period 2007-2013.