The EPP Group calls for a fresh start of Roma integration policies in Europe and will present a policy paper today. Amongst others, the paper proposes measures for better access to education, to drinking water and to sanitary services for Roma, better enforcement of existing anti-discrimination laws, awareness-raising among non-Roma population, targeted measures for Roma women and girls as well as incentives for local businesses to hire Roma.
"A decade of EU efforts to help the 6 million Roma in the EU has failed. Nothing has changed for the poorest. Lack of political will and commitment, the ineffective use of funds and widespread discrimination and anti-gypsism are to blame", said Peter Pollák MEP, EPP Group Spokesman for Roma inclusion.
The EPP Group was the first to propose a unified EU Roma strategy and now points out the failure of its implementation. “There are still Roma communities where EU citizens drink water from streams, have no sewage systems and grow up without proper education. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an eye-opener. Roma people in their overcrowded homes simply cannot comply with necessary distancing and hygiene measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic”, Pollák explained.
Ahead of the planned new, post-2020 EU Initiative for Roma Equality and Inclusion, the EPP Group wants the EU to focus on results for those who need it. Pollák emphasised: “Delivering tangible results and real changes especially in Member States with large Roma communities whose failed inclusion brings clear economic problems and creates disparities between regions, must be the backbone of future help.”
“Roma are not a burden but an opportunity. If Roma people are finally perceived as future workers, entrepreneurs, taxpayers or consumers, these countries can benefit by half a billion Euros annually. We can no longer allow the waste of this potential. Real help for Roma will be help for Europe”, Pollák continued.
Targeted help must go hand-in-hand with fighting stereotypes. “Roma inclusion is a two-way process of changing mindsets of both Roma and non-Roma. Roma, as EU citizens, should have a say in what the EU does and how it works for them. Their stronger engagement will also contribute to fighting deeply rooted prejudice and persisting discrimination”, Pollák concluded.
Read the full text of the EPP Group's Position Paper on Roma inclusion.
The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 187 Members from all EU Member States