Fundamental Rights Agency: Promise to support national Roma inclusion strategies

Morten Kjaerum, director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has presented the agency's 2010 activities to the EP's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE). Answering the question of Lívia Járóka, rapporteur of the EU strategy on Roma inclusion, the director confirmed that the FRA was willing to assist the development of national Roma inclusion strategies already as of the planning phase.

Today the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament hosted Morten Kjaerum, Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and Ilze Brands Kehris, Chairwoman of the FRA Management Board. Following the presentation of the FRA's 2010 activities, EPP Group MEP Lívia Járóka posed a question to the director on how the agency was going to raise the awareness of local Roma communities – with regard to the better implementation of the equality directive – about their rights and possibilities in case of discrimination. Járóka also asked whether the FRA was ready to assist Member States in developing their national Roma inclusion strategies to be submitted by the end of 2011, especially concerning comparable processing and analysis of data related to the crisis map assessed by the European Roma Strategy.

Kjaerum reminded that the inclusion of Roma has become key focus of European human rights discussions, thus EU institutions would need to work on it stronger in the future. The director confirmed their willingness to support Member States in developing their national inclusion plans, and that together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank they were planning to launch a survey to compare the economic situation of Roma and local majority households. Kjaerum believes that via this measure it will be possible to differentiate between discrimination and general poverty, then subsequently to refine the tools of the FRA and the Member States. Concerning the awareness of local communities, the director highlighted that most victims of discrimination had no knowledge of any legal aids, so after setting up national equality bodies and finalizing the institution structure, the next step should be their education and involvement.