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European Roma Information Office's recommendations to the Czech EU Presidency

Brussels, 24.1.2009 17:33, (ROMEA)

The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) welcoms the motto of the Czech EU Presidency "Europe without barriers", and in this regard presents its recommendations.

In a three-page document, the Brussels-based Roma advocacy organisation outlines its proposals to make Europe a better place for the Roma: "it is imperative that the barriers preventing Roma from being socially included and receiving equal treatment are removed".

Therefore ERIO asks also to the Czech Presidency to promote a European Framework Strategy for Roma, that will represent the most effective instrument for successful policy making towards the most important and deprived European minority. The adoption of a Framework Strategy is the best way to spend the noteworthy European funds allocated for Roma integration. In facts, despite the important amount of money earmarked to this aim, the lack of policy coordination, both within the European Commission and between European and national governments, makes the use of those funds inefficient. ERIO also asks for the set up of the announced Roma Platform as a forum of discussion on the best policies to adopt in favour of Roma.

The most urgent action to enhance Roma integration regards education. ERIO welcomes the approach adopted by the EU institutions as reflected in the European Commission's Green Paper "Migration and Mobility: Challenges and Opportunities for EU Education Systems". Nevertheless, Roma are still mostly excluded from education at all levels: this consequently prevents them from accessing higher education and adequate employment. ERIO asks The Czech EU Presidency to call upon the European Commission to focus (within negotiations about the) on a future "Strategic Framework for European Cooperation in Education and Training Beyond 2010", for the integration of disadvantaged groups into mainstream education. The new programme should include the support of school desegregation programmes benefiting Roma and other minority children. It should also focus at young people and lifelong learning measures that specifically target unemployed and low-skilled Roma in order to re-insert them into the labour market.

Another step that should be taken in favour of Roma is the full liberalisation of worker movement within the EU. ERIO hopes that such a political message and commitment will be positively reflected in the treatment of Roma migrants throughout Europe. Migration should not be treated as a security issue: that's why the Czech government should take the lead in proposing a new European Policy Programme for Freedom, Justice and Security, replacing the Hague Programme (2005) and based on a human rights approach.

Finally, Prague shall enforce the fight against anti-Gypsyism by calling upon Member States to implement as quickly as possible the European Framework Decision on Xenophobia and Racism, adopted by the European Council in November 2008, to put in place all necessary legal and institutional arrangements to combat racism against Roma and to work towards achieving a societal consensus, especially with the participation of media enterprises and political parties, to eradicate anti-Gypsyism in their countries.

ERIO
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