A new European platform for Roma inclusion met for the first time in Prague on 24 April 2009, to improve coordination of national actions to tackle the exclusion of Europe's biggest ethnic minority.
The meeting brought together national governments, the EU, other international organisations and civil society and stimulated cooperation and exchange of experience on successful Roma inclusion policies.
The meeting, co-organised by Commissioner Špidla and the Czech Minister for Human Rights and National Minorities, Michael Kocáb, reviewed progress in tackling Roma exclusion since the first European Roma Summit, held in Brussels in September 2008. It follows a call from the General Affairs Council in December 2008 to organise an exchange of good practice and experience between EU countries and to stimulate cooperation between all parties by means of an integrated European platform.
The meeting identified a set of basic principles to effectively address the inclusion of Roma. In addition, the European Commission will outline how it plans to target the needs of Roma people with EU-level instruments and policies in 2009 and 2010. It will report too on the implementation of a new EUR 5 million pilot project which the European Parliament has added to the 2009 Budget. The Commission will present a fuller progress report early in 2010 in time for the next Roma Summit to be held in
The situation of several millions of Roma in the EU and its neighbours is characterised by discrimination and far-reaching exclusion from mainstream society, with disproportional rates of poverty and unemployment, poor health status and lower life expectancy. In addition, Roma are often victims of discrimination and racist violence.