Speaking at the 6th meeting of the European Platform for Roma Inclusion, in Brussels Commissioner László Andor reminded that Roma inclusion is a challenge for the EU as whole, but progress depends on national and local efforts. "Societies where Roma do well will be more cohesive and more prosperous too. There is no trade-off between economic efficiency and social equity", Mr Andor said.
In its Europe 2020 Strategy, the EU has set a target to reduce the number of people living in poverty and exclusion by 20 million by 2020. "But we cannot meet that target if we leave Roma by the wayside. And that means all Member States must make a big effort", stressed Mr Andor. He added: "The bad news is that the Member States’ combined national targets to reduce poverty and social exclusion do not add up to the EU headline target agreed by the European Council".
The Commissioner explained that "Member States must make better use and take fuller advantage of the possibilities offered by the EU Funds and the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies . They must do this with the Roma communities and organisations — not for them, and certainly not on their behalf".
The Commission held a series of high-level events in Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Bulgaria to raise awareness of the opportunities EU funds offer to improve Roma’s social and economic situation. In 2011 this process will focus on issues identified in National Roma Integration Strategies.
On 6 October the Commission put forward a proposal for cohesion policy that involves many innovations for the future and a particularly strong social agenda. With this proposal it suggests that a large percentage of the budget be channelled into areas that are closely related to the Europe 2020 Strategy, its objectives and headline targets. It also sets out measures to increase effectiveness in the use of EU funds.