“We need to bring the Council on board”

Prague, 24.04.2009 - The Czech Presidency of the European Union hosted the first session of the European Roma Platform in Prague. Lívia Járóka MEP (EPP-ED) urged the heads of state and government to take a more remarkable role in the social inclusion of Roma.

The European Roma Platform held its statutory meeting in Prague, the capital of the EU’s current presidency. At the event organized by the European Commission and the Czech government, Járóka accentuated that due to current demographic challenges, the threatening split of social cohesion, and the misguided measures concerning the financial crisis the successful socio-economic integration of Roma is one of the key issues of Europe’s future. She stated that there is a need for a paradigm shift: more emphasis must be put on the economic and financial aspects of Roma integration beside the anti-discrimination and human rights approach. According to the MEP, it is important to make the majority society realise, that the social inclusion of Roma is not merely a moral obligation, but in the same time the strict financial interest of all the Member States and therefore an economic necessity. As we have learned from the doubtful success of previous international initiatives, without clear legislative commitment, credible budgetary appropriation and the unambiguous obligation of governments, rotund political slogans will never become real – she said. Járóka also pronounced that only the European Union as a community can provide the necessary leverage to force the participants comply with their own pledges. She drew the attention to the inadequate implementation of existing rules. As an example she mentioned, that there is a low level of awareness about the legal framework of anti-discrimination, which – as seen in the newest report of the Fundamental Rights Agency – results in the astoundingly few number of complaints that are being lodged.
 
After the session, there was a joint press conference together with Michael Kocab Czech minister of human rights and national minorities and Vladimir Spidla Commissioner for employment and equal opportunities. Járóka appreciated the significance of the Platform and emphasized that in partnership with the Commission, the European Parliament has been the “flagship” of Roma integration so far, but it is indispensable to have the European Council on-board in order to succeed. She said, the Platform can guarantee the necessary continuity among the rotating presidencies and provide the opportunity to develop a long term and non-partisan action plan.