EU funds for Roma discussed in the European Parliament

31 July 2015

EU funds for Roma discussed in the European Parliament

In the July session of the European Parliament committees the topic for EU funds for Roma has been high on the agenda.

On 13th July the committee on Budgetary Control (CONT) hosted an exchange of views with Commissioner Thyssen, responsible for Employment and Social Affairs. The Commissioner underlined how 1 in 3 Roma people is unemployed, 1 in 5 has no health insurance, 90% live below the poverty line. She stressed the importance to include Roma people in the workforce in countries with large Roma populations 15-20 % of the labour entrees are Roma- and how discrimination lies at the heart of the problem.

Commissioner Thyssen stated that the integration of Roma is top priority for the Commission and pre-conditions to the use of EU funds have been set to work towards the improvement of the situation. She also underlined that the cooperation between civil society and local authorities needs to be strengthened and that there is a need to improve the capacity of public authorities to better address the needs of Roma people.  Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) questioned the Commissioner on how she will ensure the EU money is spent efficiently and effectively. They observed the absence of specific monitoring tools to assess the outreach to the right target groups. Also the lack of involvement of Roma Civil Society was mentioned as a concern.

The following day, on 14th July 2015 ERGO Network took part in a public hearing in the framework of the draft report proposed by MEP Terry Reintke on cohesion policy and marginalised communities. ERGO Network has been involved since the beginning the ‘Draft Report on Cohesion Policy and Marginalised Communities’ 2014/2247(INI) and the text presented at the hearing and discussed in the Committee on Regional Development (REGI) includes many of our standpoints and recommendations.  It points out at the shortcomings of the last programming period, calls for a more integrated approach in programmes addressing Roma, as well as for more civil society engagement and for a shift towards quality monitoring.  The first amendments to the report will be voted by the REGI committee probably in September and after that the report will move to be discussed and voted in the plenary session of the European Parliament.

The fact many Members of the European Parliament intervened in both occasions shows that more discussions on the topic needed and that support for our demands is present across parties.

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