Yesterday, the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) held a public Hearing on 'The EU Strategy on Roma Inclusion'. At the Hearing, Lívia Járóka MEP, Rapporteur of the strategy, set out her recommendations on the issue, calling for an EU-level action plan. Earlier in the day, the EPP Group's Working Group on Roma Inclusion held an open session, where leading researchers presented their findings on the situation of the Roma.
With the participation of several high-level officials, including Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, and Zoltán Balog, Hungarian State Minister for Social Inclusion, Lívia Járóka MEP presented the main recommendations and principles of her draft Report to the LIBE Committee. Her proposals include: precise definition of priority areas and related objectives; adoption of the strategy as an all-European, multilevel action plan with clear indicators and benchmarks; establishment of a performance reserve to finance those projects and interventions on a competitive basis. Járóka emphasised that the strategy must define its target audience on the basis of common economic attributes instead of ethnicity, and that the territorial nature of social exclusion must be considered and tackled by drawing up an all-European crisis-map measuring the lagging-behind micro-regions.
Viviane Reding said that fostering Roma inclusion was undoubtedly a priority for the EU. The Commissioner said she could most probably support the adoption of many of the proposals drafted in the Járóka Report and as an example, she underlined that she found acceptable both the proposal for retaining the Roma Task Force of the Commission as a permanent body for supervising the Strategy, and also proposing Member States to appoint a governmental body to act as national contact points for implementation.
Zoltán Balog, Hungarian State Minister for Social Inclusion representing the upcoming Hungarian Presidency, underlined that for the credibility of the strategy, Member States must undertake the fulfilment of specific goals and that these goals must be defined on the basis of social and territorial indicators. Minister Balog added that EU Institutions must review their monitoring practice in order to ensure the effectiveness and complexity of EU funding. He recalled that the creation of a European Roma Strategy is among the most important priorities of the Hungarian EU Presidency.
Yesterday morning, the opening session of the EPP Group’s Working Group on Roma Inclusion was opened by Jerzy Buzek MEP, President of the European Parliament, who emphasised the importance of connections between academic researches and everyday politics and underlined that the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union acknowledge combating social exclusion as one of the Union’s priorities. Lívia Járóka, chair of the Working Group, highlighted that the up-to-date knowledge of researchers about already-existing new policies that are being implemented at present and their experiences were therefore extremely important not only for policy planning but also for reshaping and adjusting these policies to maximise their benefits for the Roma people.
At the meeting, Europe’s leading researchers – sociologists, anthropologists and ethnographers – presented their latest findings on the situation of the Roma. Among the many participants were Goldsmiths College researcher Iliana Tsankova, Judith Durst from the University College London, Stefano Toma and Elisabeth Tauber from the Free University of Bolzano, Michael Stewart, researcher of the University College London, Ágota Scharle from the Budapest Institute for Policy Analysis, Monica Rossi, researcher of the Self-Made Urbanity Research Institute.