EESC addresses Roma inclusion in Europe

by ERIO on February 27th, 2014

By Gianluca Cesaro, ERIO

On the 27th February, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) discussed the National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS) during its plenary session. One of the key speakers was Zoltán Balog, Hungarian Minister for Human Resources.

Recalling the problems faced by the European Roma community, Mr Balog stated that the solution lies in an integrated approach encompassing culture, education and employment. As an example of this attitude, the Minister pointed out some recent developments in Hungary, including vocational training both for men (“Start” programme) and women, the integration of learning modules on Roma culture and history in school curricula, the creation of a General Secretariat for Roma inclusion in 2010 and the introduction of a minority-based representation inside the Hungarian Parliament in 2011. If approved, a new law will also set compulsory education for three-year old kids; this will be supported by a form of public aid, as long as the children continue to attend the school.

As regards the NRIS, Mr Balog called for nationally-tailored indicators, both qualitative and quantitative, in order to better monitor the implementation of the measures. Common European indicators were rejected by the Minister because of the heterogeneous situation of Roma communities across the EU. Mr Balog also made a plea for Europe to face historic oblivion and acknowledge the tragedy of the Roma Holocaust, as no Nuremberg trial did justice for this population.

Concluding the session, EESC President Henri Malosse announced the delivering of a European prize for civil society organisations in October 2014, which will be awarded to an organisation working with - not just for- Roma. The three groups forming the EESC were required to identify and propose their candidates within this scope.

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