Roma inclusion strategies - From good intentions to tangible results
BUCHAREST, 2 May 2013 - The United Nations in Romania and “Împreună” Community Development Agency, with support from the European Commission Representation in Romania, recently held the “Roma Inclusion Strategies – From Good Intentions to Tangible Results” Conference. The European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor, and the Minister of Labour, Social Protection and Senior Citizens, Mariana Câmpeanu, and Sandie Blanchet, Acting UN Resident Coordinator opened the event in Bucharest.
While there has been progress in the past years, and many local positive initiatives, there is concern at the national, European and international levels, that this progress has been too little and too slow. United Nations agencies argue that inclusive services and labour markets that reach out to vulnerable populations, including Roma, will benefit everyone in the country and lead to a more inclusive, sustainable growth and prosperous and peaceful country,” she said.
The aim of the conference was to identify effective results-proven solutions while renewing decision makers’ commitment to move forward on Roma social inclusion. Romania has committed to improve the condition of Roma people and to take assessable concrete measures in the area of social inclusion. However, to make these come true, an integrated efficient and up-to-date strategy needs to be developed in line with Europe 2020 Strategy requirements.
“The European Union must accept that the Roma issue is an EU-wide concern and that only together can we find the best solutions to pull this minority up from the bottom of society. Solutions must start with education and eventually lead to human capital development – this is something that needs to be seriously taken into consideration during the EU funding programming period 2014-2020,” said Mariana Câmpeanu, the Minister of Labour, Family, Social Protection and Senior Citizens.
Conference debates have been themed around the National Strategy for Roma Social Inclusion and the manner in which this strategy fits into government plans and national strategies, including into those that will be co-financed under the 2014 - 2020 partnership agreement between Romania and the European Union.
“The implementation of efficient, targeted actions on the ground requires an approach targeting human capital investments. Particularly in Central Europe and the Balkans, social investment in the Roma integration can bring high returns, and its absence can result in large economic and social damage. In Romania, investments should be encouraged to facilitate the labour market integration of Roma people, especially Roma women and young people, and in general those living in remote and isolated communities,” said László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.
A comparative analysis on the past 15 years’ social inclusion of Roma people was presented at the Conference. Furthermore, good practice models implemented by central and local governments, NGOs and international organisations and regarding Roma access to education, labour market integration, healthcare, and integrated interventions including housing provision were also showcased.
“One of the greatest economic stakes for Romania and also for Europe in the next 10 years will be to ensure the development of the human capital emerging from the Roma minority, human capital that can turn into the much-awaited driving force for economic recovery and growth, especially in the light of the population pyramid that Romania will feature by 2050,” said Gelu Duminică, Executive Director, “Împreună” Community Development Agency.
The conference was attended by over 150 people, representing the Romanian Government, the presidential administration, the European Commission, nongovernmental organisations, EU funding managing bodies, UN agencies and other international organisations.
About United Nations in Romania
The United Nations (UN) was founded in 1945. 51 countries committed to maintain international peace and security, to develop friendly relations among nations and to promote social progress, better living standards and human rights. Although best known for peace-keeping, peace-building, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance, there are many other ways the United Nations and its agencies, funds and programmes affect our lives and make the world we live in a better place. The following UN entities are currently active In Romania: the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNICEF, WHO, World Bank.
About “Împreună” Community Development Agency
“Împreună” Agency is a community development foundation that is non-profit, apolitical and non-governmental and was established in 1999. Its mission is to preserve and assert Roma identity and to get the recognition of Roma as a people and as an ethnic and national minority. The Foundation moves towards this mission through research, documentation, dissemination, and support to Roma-oriented public policy development and implementation. The objectives of “Împreună” Agency focus in two directions: Roma community development in the context of civil, social, political and economic rights, and cooperation and partnership with national and international public and private organisations that are specialised in implementing Roma-targeting social programmes.
About the European Commission Representation in Romania (ECR)
ECR acts as the voice of the European Commission in Romania, ensuring an effective information flow between the Commission and Romanian citizens and authorities. The ECR mission is to provide the best possible understanding of the European Union, its goals, values and policies, bringing European information closer to citizens in a manner that is adapted to their specific needs.