EU strategy on Roma inclusion: MEPs set out priorities
Europe's 10-12 million Roma should benefit from EU-wide measures to promote their social, cultural and economic integration, said the Civil Liberties Committee on Monday. With a view to the presentation of the Commission's EU strategy for Roma inclusion, the committee outlined its priorities, including equal access to employment and education, protecting fundamental rights, better use of EU funding and involving Roma women in policy development.
Roma people have suffered systematic discrimination and are struggling against "an intolerable degree of exclusion", as well as human rights violations, severe stigmatization and discrimination in public and private life, says the resolution adopted by the Civil Liberties Committee by 50 votes in favour and one against. According to Parliament's rapporteur, Lívia Járóka (EPP, HU), Roma inclusion is not merely a human rights obligation, but also an economic need and the financial interest of all Member States.
After the vote, Ms Járóka explained: "I am very happy that the resolution was backed by such an overwhelming majority. I hope that the Commission's upcoming proposal will take our priorities into account, which are also shared by the programme of the Hungarian Presidency. This is a great step forward towards a true common Roma strategy for all 27 Member States of the EU."
Members set out the priority areas which will require more efforts from local, national and EU authorities to integrate Roma people. The EC should present a roadmap for introducing binding minimum standards at EU level for these priorities. Member States should face penalties for the non-compliance of the objectives.
The strategy should address all forms of violations of the fundamental rights of Roma, including "discrimination, segregation, hate speech, ethnic profiling and unlawful fingerprinting, as well as unlawful eviction and expulsion". It should also put an end to return of Roma to countries where they might be subjected to torture or to degrading treatment.
On employment, the strategy must ensure effective access to the labour market by making micro-credit available for entrepreneurship and self-employment. Member States and the Commission are called upon to adopt measures to combat undeclared jobs and to promote the hiring of Roma staff in the public administration.
MEPs highlight the need for affordable and healthy housing for Roma and the abolition of territorial segregation. All Roma citizens should also be recorded in up-to-date registers of births, marriages and deaths, they add.
On education, the strategy could address the abolition of school and classroom segregation by employing Roma school mediators and increasing the number of Roma teachers. The identity of Roma children should be protected making education available in their own language. Also, equal access to early childhood education, adult vocational training and lifelong learning should be provided.
Better use of EU funding
The Civil Liberties Committee urges to allocate a dedicated funding to support the strategy inside the cohesion policy within the next Multiannual Financial Framework. MEPs also advocate creating EU support bodies under the supervision of the existing Roma Task Force to secure development-oriented EU funding in support of good local initiatives and to identify and report misuse of funds in time. Additionally, the scope of the EU funding should be extended so that besides development, the provision of quality public services also becomes eligible, it adds.
The EU strategy should address the specific needs of Roma women, by involving them in the development of policies and stopping the practice of child marriages. The support to girls' education should also be included in the strategy.
The Parliament will vote as a whole on the EU strategy on Roma inclusion in March. The Commission is expected to present its proposal in April. The European Council (Member States) should adopt the strategy at its meeting on 24 June. Roma inclusion is one of the Hungarian Presidency's priorities.
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