The strategy for the inclusion of the Roma minority, a subject of importance mostly to Eastern and Central European member states, was discussed at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on the 8th of March, 2011.
The iniator of the theme discussion, Hungarian MEP Lívia Járóka has been a promoter of the cause of the Roma community as an European issue for many years: she has been advocating for the need to devise a comprehensive European legal framework that urges the adoption of uniform solutions to the community’s problem.
In her opening speech, Járóka stressed the fact that the strategy needs to take into consideration all 27 member states, and current and future candidate countries also need to be involved in the implementation of the priorities and goals. She also spoke of the institutional framework ensuring the implementation of the strategy: she considers that the European Commission needs to assume the responsibilities of monitoring, coordination and evaluation and to present yearly reports to the Council of the European Union with regards to the progress being made and the eventual corrections needed. The necessary funds for the implementation of the strategy will be obtained from different EU related financial structures, such as the Cohesion Fund, the Social Fund and different agricultural funds.
During the debate, MEPs from different political factions agreed to regard the resolution’s proposals as guidelines in the future.
The MEPs also highlighted some of the issues of the Roma minorities’ situation. Hungarian MEP Kinga Gál spoke of the rights of children to physical and mental development, as well as cooked meals and education. Edit Bauer, Hungarian MEP from Slovakia considers that Roma girls need special attention due to the fact that they often leave the education systems early on, due to teenage pregnancies and increasing household responsibilities.
DAHR’s Hungarian MEP from Transylvania, Csaba Sógor emphasized the importance of common responsibility in the solution of the Roma issue: „The issue of the Roma’s economic and social exclusion has been a subject of debate only since the accession of the new member states. But this doesn’t mean that the problem did not exist before. Although the relationship between Roma communities and their neighbors hasn’t always been peaceful, these tensions have only intensified since the fall of communism”.
The MEP believes that the Roma are the losers of the shift towards the market economy because the activities that have ensured the survival of this community gradually disappeared since. „There is a common responsibility... we are all responsible, the Roma are responsible for themselves, but Europe is also responsible because it has not acknowledged the problem in its full depth up until now. Mrs. Járóka’s resolution’s message is that a Europe-wide problem cannot be solved with just the interdiction of discrimination” – said Csaba Sógor.
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor was pleased to announce that the EP and the Commission are heading in the same direction with regard to the solution of the problems of housing, education and healthcare of the Roma minority, thus a planned economic and social development in the community’s situation is to be expected.
Bulgarian MEP Andrey Kovatchev shared these views, adding that the Roma community also needs to be given an important role; they need to aid in the construction of the houses being built for them.
Speaking on the Hungarian Presidency’s behalf, Secretary of state for social inclusion in the Hungarian Ministry for Administration and Justice, Zoltán Balog closed the debate saying that the Roma need to become subjects, not objects of these measures.
The EP adopted Lívia Járóka’s resolution on the 9th of March. It is foreseeable that the Council of the European Union will adopt the European Strategy for the Inclusion of the Roma during its meeting in June, under the Hungarian Presidency.