European Parliament backs resolution for strategy on Roma inclusion
The Resolution of the European Parliament on the EU strategy on Roma inclusion was passed overwhelmingly with 567 votes to 32, with 60 absentees.
Hungarian, Roma MEP Livia Járóka drafted the resolution calling for the strategy, a member of the European People’s Party (EPP) who said that ‘the social inclusion of Roma is one of the most important strategic challenges that Europe faces.’
Járóka’s dedication to improving conditions for the Roma community was supported by 86% of the MEPs who voted. This included virtually all members of the EPP and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). Far-right members constituted the 32 who voted against the resolution, including Marine Le Pen, the current leader of France’s Front National.
The resolution calls for ‘binding minimum standards at EU level’ for the different areas of policy that will make up the strategy. Responsibility for monitoring its progress and results will fall upon the European Commission.
However, rather than developing a single European strategy, there will be emphasis next month on each of the 27 EU member states establishing national strategies that are related to the specific situation regarding Roma in their country.
Overall, it is estimated that there are around 10 and 12 million Roma living in the EU, making them the largest ethnic minority in Europe.
Poverty and social exclusion are major issues amongst Roma, with Járóka saying that in order to alleviate these, there needs to be an ‘EU-level effort to guarantee access to employment, housing, health care and education.
There was also acknowledgement amongst MEPs of the Roma expulsions that have been occurring in EU member states and the anti-Roma rhetoric often used in politics. As such, there was strong agreement that the discrimination, stigmatisation and segregation of Roma are all factors that the EU Strategy on Roma Inclusion must deal with.
European programmes and funds are available to assist with improving the social and economic status of Roma, such as the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The European Parliament is advising member states to utilise such financial assistance to help bring Roma integration policies to fruition.
The Commission will present its proposed targets for Roma inclusion at the start of next month in Budapest.
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