Overwhelming support for the first-ever EU Strategy on Roma

"The social inclusion of Roma is one of the most important strategic challenges that Europe faces and at the same time it provides one of the most promising opportunities for the continent", said Lívia Járóka MEP, Rapporteur of the EU Strategy on Roma Inclusion. Today, the document was adopted with an overwhelming majority at the Strasbourg plenary. With this success, a huge step has been taken towards a European level strategy to ease the burdens of Europe's biggest minority group. The Hungarian MEP emphasised that the approach should not merely be based on ethnicity but major economic factors must also be taken into account to reach visible and long-lasting results.

After having been adopted by the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee a few weeks ago, the Roma Strategy Report has been adopted at the European Parliament’s plenary session with a vast majority. “The EP is the first among the European Institutions to provide a tangible strategy dealing with Roma inclusion, now it’s time for the Commission and the Council to respond in order to implement and benefit from it. The current Hungarian Presidency has set the Roma Strategy among its priorities and aims to adopt it in the Council in the early summer”, said Mrs Járóka after the votes.

The most essential novelty of the proposed EU-27 Strategy is that the emphasis is placed on the economic and social roots of the exclusion beside the approach of discrimination and that it provides an EU mechanism to coordinate the actions of stakeholders ranging from local governments to the Council, harnessing the advantages of multi-level governance. The Report also calls on the Commission to evaluate and validate the national Roma inclusion strategies of the Member States and to report annually to the Parliament and the Council on the progress made in terms of the priorities and objectives of the Strategy. The Hungarian MEP believes that the sub-standard living conditions of Roma communities must be eliminated. “Fundamental rights to employment, housing, healthcare and education must be ensured”, Mrs Járóka stressed in her speech.

An important element in launching the strategy is to set up an all-European crisis map to explore the most affected micro-regions to handle the problems. “The Strategy must also take into account the territoriality of exclusion, since geographical distribution of social disadvantages is not uniform throughout the Member States but poverty and social exclusion are concentrated in underdeveloped micro-regions”, highlighted the Hungarian politician. Lívia Járóka, the only Member of the European Parliament of Roma origin, also proposes a financial incentive for the implementation of the strategy in the form of a performance reserve which should originate from the cohesion budget’s unabsorbed funds.

The European Commission is presenting its own proposal in April and based on this proposal, the Hungarian Presidency will work out a common position for the European Council. The Council of the European Union is planning to adopt the Strategy in June.

Lívia Járóka’s Report on the EU Strategy on Roma Inclusion

In Focus: Challenge and opportunity for Europe