International Roma Day: Commission urges decisive action on Roma integration
On International Roma Day the European Commission urges EU countries to take the next steps towards integrating Roma. National strategies and a strong framework for action have already been established, and now "long term commitments, adequate resources and concerted action" at all levels is needed.
Since 2010 the Commission, which sees Roma integration as a very important objective, has ensured the issue has remained high on the political agenda. It established an EU Framework for national Roma integration strategies in April 2011, and this led to integration strategies for each EU country, through which the Commission evaluates and reports on their progress.
To support national efforts, EU funding has been mobilised through the European Social Fund, the European Regional Development Fund and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. However the latest report found that only 12 countries had clearly set aside funds for their Roma inclusion policy. The Commission has proposed better targeting of these funds for the next period 2014 – 2020.
"Roma integration thus must not be seen as a cost, but as a social investment", said Vice-President Viviane Reding (EU-Justice Commissioner) and Commissioners László Andor (Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) and Johannes Hahn (Regional Policy) in a joint statement. They called for "genuine political commitment from the Member States" and stressed that negotiations on the next period of EU funding should ensure that National Roma Contact Points, Roma NGOs and experts be included in the planning of how these funds would be allocated.
The next progress reports will be published in the summer, when the Commission will also propose a new Recommendation to the European Council.