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Roma - new targets for better integration - 07/04/2011

Five young Roma children standing on grass © EU

Plan to improve Roma peoples' access to education, the jobs market, healthcare and housing.

‘Roma' is an umbrella term for the variety of Romani groups who might describe themselves as Roma, Gypsies, Manouches, Ashkali or Sinti. With a population of some 11 million, they are Europe's largest ethnic minority. There are Roma communities in almost all EU countries.

Roma in Europe face greater hardship than the rest of the population. Many lack the education they need to find jobs. They often have shorter lives and reside in poor-quality housing.

The EU framework for national Roma integration strategies sets EU-wide targets to raise Roma peoples' quality of life, bridging the socioeconomic gaps that can separate them from mainstream society. The targets are:

  • for all Roma children to finish primary school - a survey in six EU countries found just 42% of youngsters now complete this stage
  • full access to vocational training, the jobs market and self-employment schemes - employment rates, especially for women, are well below the EU average
  • equal access to healthcare, preventive care and social services - with lower child mortality rates a priority
  • non-discriminatory access to housing, including social housing - for example, by connecting Roma communities to public water and power supplies

EU countries will be required to devise their own national Roma strategies by the end of this year using these guidelines.

The plan also proposes ways to improve the use of available EU funding to better target Roma needs. Today, most member countries do not put the money granted by the EU to good enough use by supporting Roma-focused projects.

Making sure Roma have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else is important for their integration, and for the social cohesion of society. It also promises economic benefits. With the right skills to find work, Roma will be able contribute to economic productivity - cutting state benefit payments and increasing income tax revenue.

The Commission will monitor the progress of national Roma integration strategies, notably through the EU agency for fundamental rights, and report back to the Parliament and the Council each year.

More on the EU and Roma

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