The European Commission today published its Communication on National Roma Integration Strategies. Lívia Járóka MEP, Rapporteur of the EU Strategy on Roma Inclusion, commented: "Most countries have presented a credible and profound plan for enhancing the inclusion of the 12 million European Roma, but for the success of this framework strategy, several additional conditions must be fulfilled."
At a joint press conference today, Lívia Járóka MEP, Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice and Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, and László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, presented their views on the document's findings.
According to EPP Group MEP Lívia Járóka, the submitted national plans do not fall short of the expected professional validation and complexity, but reproducing the objectives set out by the EU Institutions on paper is one thing and in practice, of course, will be another. "Only those projects whose impacts – in the form of clear, concrete actions – are deep and visible, with indisputable results should be endorsed", highlighted Mrs Járóka.
The Hungarian MEP also drew attention to the necessity of ensuring the participatory monitoring evaluation involving Roma communities and helping to develop their capacity and expertise in order to gain a realistic and objective view of the overall success or failure of different measures and instruments. "For this, the independence of Roma NGOs is very important, since the vast majority of civil society is either paid directly by their homeland governments or they live on EU-allocated sums distributed by national authorities and they find themselves in an inferior position which blunts their criticism towards the authorities and weakens their role as watchdogs", underlined Mrs Járóka, the only Roma Member in the European Parliament.
Mrs Járóka also touched upon the enlargement aspect of the framework strategy and called on the EU Institutions to involve the enlargement countries at whatever stage of accession, to mobilise the Instrument on Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), and to pressurise them through the mechanism of the Stabilisation and Association (SAA) process. On the funding of the strategy and the next multiannual financial framework, Lívia Járóka welcomed the Commission's proposals for the regulations governing the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, in particular broadening the range of ex ante conditions adding the development of national strategies and mapping the territorial concentration of poverty.
"More target and development-oriented, complex, flexible and sustainable programmes are necessary with longer time coverage and greater territorial relevance, focusing on the most disadvantaged micro-regions and addressing suburban or rural poverty", she concluded.