In a visit to Košice, Slovakia, Commissioner László Andor took part in a high level event on the role of EU funds to fight Roma exclusion and visited a European social Fund (ESF) project in Tuhrina Municipality. "Working for inclusion has to be done with the Roma communities, not for them", the Commissioner said.
Roma are one of the biggest ethnic minorities in the EU. Many face poverty, discrimination and social exclusion on a daily basis. The Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion took the visit to Košice as an opportunity to highlight how Roma people can contribute to European growth by developing their talents and by being active citizens. "We cannot achieve smart or sustainable growth – the objective of the EU's 2020 strategy - without effective Roma integration. And we certainly won't achieve inclusive growth without the contribution of the Roma people", he said.
"Poverty is not just about material income. It is also lack of opportunities, being excluded or living 10 or 15 years less than the average European. Roma people do not need a separate labour market, or separate schools and they should not be living in ghettos", Mr Andor added.
Speaking to journalists after visiting a ESF funded project in Tuhrina Municipality, Mr Andor explained the potential of the ESF to help EU countries with the implementation of their Roma integration strategies. "Slovakia has explicitly identified support to marginalised Roma communities as one of the priorities in the current EU funds programming period and has 'earmarked' an indicative allocation of about €200m under this priority", Mr Andor said.
The ESF helps 9 million people a year to learn new skills to help them access or remain in the labour market.