Additional tools02/10/2014 - 03/10/2014
On 2nd and 3rd October 2014 in Brussels, more than 400 participants from over 30 countries attended the conference "Roma inclusion on the ground - the ROMACT approach”.
Mayors from cities in Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia met with the Commission to discuss the initial results of ROMACT, a joint programme of the European Commission and the Council of Europe aimed at supporting Roma inclusion.
High level representatives from the European institutions present included Lazslo Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Soraya Post MEP, Paraskevi Michou, Acting Director-General, Justice, Lieve Fransen, Director for Europe 2020: Social Policies in Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion DG, and Vittoria Alliata, Director for Administrative Capacity Building & South-East Europe in Regional & Urban Policy DG.
Mr Andor said: "Roma inclusion can only be achieved through national efforts combined with action at the local level. This is why the EU supports local authorities in designing and implementing Roma integration projects and in applying for EU funding through programmes such as ROMACT".
Mayors stressed that access to quality education, in particular pre-school education, and to affordable housing is an urgent priority. They also explained how they help create job opportunities in disadvantaged communities by supporting entrepreneurship and with social clauses in public procurement.
City representatives from Western Europe called for specific assistance to help them integrate marginalised Roma coming from Eastern Europe.
Local elected officials emphasised the need to develop local administrative capacity to implement Roma inclusion measures and to better use EU funding for that purpose. In this respect the ROMACT programme is already making a real difference on the ground.
Overall the conference gave a new impulse to efforts at all levels to concretely improve the living conditions of disadvantaged Roma across Europe.
Watch the conference as it happened via web streaming: