• 05-DEC-2013

  • SOURCE: S&D Group at European Parliament

European Progressives Call for Effective Integration of Roma People

The European Parliament's S&D Group and the PES Group of the Committee of the Regions held today a joint conference on "Roma inclusion - Challenges and opportunities at the local level".

The President of the S&D Group, Hannes Swoboda, opened the debate by underlining the urgency to fight discrimination and social exclusion of Roma people at European level: "There are 10 million European Roma people, many of whom suffer from discrimination. Discriminating against Roma people is diametrically opposed to the respect for fundamental rights and human dignity and fuels extremist groups and policies", he stressed. "We must integrate the Roma people, instead of using them as scapegoats in times of crisis", he urged.

S&D Group Vice-President Sylvie Guillaume MEP, pointed out: "For Socialists and Democrats, defending Roma inclusion is essential because it concerns people who are marginalised and live in very poor socio-economic conditions. But to achieve this goal, we first need to concentrate on local authorities efforts to improve the current situation and facilitate their access to European funds available. We also need to put an end to the confusion perpetuated by right wing parties on migration rights of Roma people. Finally, we must ensure that Roma representatives of the Roma population are actively involved in the decision-making process that concerns them directly, otherwise we are doomed to failure again".

Speaking on behalf of the PES Group in the Committee of the Regions (CoR), Roger Stone, Leader of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council (UK) and CoR rapporteur on the opinion on Roma integration strategies, adopted by the CoR on 29 November, stressed: "Local and regional authorities have a key role to play in addressing the challenges facing Roma people and their host communities, in particularly with regard to accessing public services such as education, childhood services, housing and healthcare. Therefore, effective integration strategies cannot be based on a one-size-fits-all solution, but must start at grassroots level, in our cities and regions, and be coordinated through accessible National Contact Points for Roma integration".

Alongside the seminar, the LIBE Committee in the European Parliament voted on a resolution on Roma strategies, with a progressive end-result, asking specifically the European Commission to be more effective in monitoring the implementation of the integration measures, and calling on Member States to give more support to local authorities and involve the Roma representatives in the integration process. The resolution will be voted in Plenary next week.

Available content includes an edited package.