The European Commission adopted on 23 May a new communication on national Roma integration strategies as the first step in the implementation of the EU framework. The document assessed the integration strategies for Roma, developed by the member states in response to the EU’s framework for national Roma integration.
The EU Framework identified four pillars for national efforts to improve the integration of Roma, namely access to education, jobs, healthcare and housing. According to the general conclusions of the EC’s assessment, ‘member states are making efforts to develop a comprehensive approach towards Roma integration. However, much more needs to be done at national level’.
The Commission reiterated that ‘socioeconomic inclusion of Roma remains first and foremost the responsibility of the member states and they will need stronger efforts to live up to their responsibilities, by adopting more concrete measures, explicit targets for measurable deliverables, clearly earmarked funding at national level and a sound national monitoring and evaluation system’.
EC gave recommendations to the member states in order to meet the challenges and bring about the effective integration of Roma minorities. Some of them included, in particular, continuation of the regular bilateral dialogue with the commission and relevant stakeholders; involvement of regional and local authorities; working closely with civil society and allocation of proportionate financial resources.
In addition, the assessment of the commission pointed out at good examples in the current operational national Roma integration strategies. Some of them included the Bulgarian and Spanish schemes to improve employment, as well as promotion of Roma inclusion in education in Slovenia and Finland.
For example, the commission evaluated that Bulgaria’s scheme to improve employment among Roma as good mainly because it ‘aimed at raising the level of Roma in employment by 2015, primarily with ESF support, by organising training courses for more than 28 000 unemployed and employed Roma in order to raise their employability and qualifications and by training 1 500 people in management and entrepreneurship’.
In relation to the new communication, Commissioner Reding said: 'Presenting national strategies is a first and important step. We need more than strategies that exist on paper. We need tangible results in national politics that improve the lives of Europe's 10 to 12 million Roma'.
The European Commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion, László Andor, also commented on communication 226, by stating that 'The inclusion of Roma in Europe is a shared economic, social and moral imperative'. He also added: 'This report underlines the need for our October 2011 proposal that Member States, for the 2014-2020 financial period, should have in place an appropriate Roma inclusion strategy before receiving European Social Fund money for it'.