The Committee of the Regions supports the policy of the European Commission to fight discrimination against Roma

The Committee of the Regions has prepared a draft report to the center of which is the fight against prejudice and hostile attitudes concerning Roma. Concrete measures to improve the integration of Roma populations are presented. The Assembly of regional and local representatives of the EU, supporting the position of the Commission in this regard, calls upon Member States, regions and local authorities to vigorously enforce the fundamental rights enshrined in EU treaties and fight all forms of discrimination against Roma people. This should include better awareness of national, regional and local measures to prevent improper or illegal.

The proposals will be discussed in Brussels on 29 September in the presence of Lívia Járóka, the European Parliament rapporteur on the Roma issue and herself a member of the Roma minority.

The CoR president, Mercedes Bresso has stated that the Roma community continued to be frequent victims of discrimination and social exclusion in European as well as other countries, which was a breach of the fundamental values of the European Union and human rights. He added that there was clearly a need to raise national, regional and local administrations awareness of their responsibility to respect the fundamental rights of every European citizen.

In his draft opinion, the CoR rapporteur Alvaro Ancisi (EPP/IT) points out that the EU and the Member States bore a shared responsibility towards the Roma people and that there was a need to put the values underpinning the EU into practice, so as to combat discrimination and expressions of xenophobia and encourage the inclusion of the EU’s largest ethnic minority group.

The integration of the Roma people, who are estimated to number some 10 to 12 million, is the responsibility of the Member States and the EU institutions. However, the CoR is concerned about the effectiveness of current policies, which suffer from lack of awareness about the Roma population among local authorities.
The diagnosis of the situation by the rapporteur, a member of Ravenna municipal council, denounced that while the instruments and policies adopted at EU level to encourage the inclusion of the Roma people were appropriate, implementation at national, regional and local levels was lacking owing both to the absence of strong partnerships and coordination mechanisms and to a local-level failure to implement instruments that could alter the practical living conditions of the Roma. He went on to add that these shortcomings and the difficulties faced by local authorities could not be ascribed simply to prejudice and stereotyping on the part of local administrations and communities but also, more generally, were the responsibility of the national governments that defined the legislative backdrop, and resulted from the not always clear-cut distribution of competences between the various tiers of government when it came to the fight against social exclusion and from insufficient cooperation between central and local government.

To remedy the situation, the CoR rapporteur proposes solutions at three levels : At European level, he hopes to see the establishment of a strategy for the implementation of common policies in the various Member States, and access to European funds for projects undertaken by local authorities. At national level, he believes that there is an urgent need for Member States to adopt legislation to render European anti-discrimination and pro-rights legislation effective and applicable. At local and regional level the rapporteur believes there is a need for territorially integrated regional policies and cooperation arrangements with the countries of origin of Roma migrants.

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