European Commissioner for Employment Laszlo Andor said that the inclusion of the Roma community should not be regarded as a cost, but an investment, with Romania having two major problems, insufficient resources and incorrect investments. The European Commissioner also cautioned that the economic crisis led to an aggravation of the social situation, with the “gloomy image Roma have in Europe”. “Nearly half of the Roma live in improper conditions. The negative effects of discriminations have got stronger. The question is how we reverse this situation,” Mediafax quoted Laszlo Andor telling the conference “Roma inclusion strategies – from good intentions to actual results”, organized by The United Nations Representation in Romania and “Together” Community Development Agency”, with support from the European Commission Representation in Romania.
The European official also said that, if this community’s integration fails anywhere in the EU, it is cohesion that stands to lose: “A joint European, national, regional and local level effort is needed. The EU brings added value in three areas: promoting such policies, financing through EU funds, genuine actions and ensuring the application of anti-discrimination legislation “. Laszlo Andor pointed out that Romania’s proposed Roma strategy had some weak points, which rendered its amendment necessary. Laszlo Andor, who was in Bucharest and Cluj yesterday, met PM Victor Ponta and the ministers of Labour, Education, European Funds, the minister delegate for Higher Education, and other senior state officials.
Campeanu: France’s solution won’t yield results
Labour Minister Mariana Campeanu, who attended the event, said that France’s solution to deal with Roma people, namely to give them money to return to their homeland, would never produce any results. Campeanu said that, while great deal of money was spent on this measure, spending it on Roma children education would have nonetheless been a better option. She also outlined that education is the main issue Romania and the European Union should resolve with respect to Roma people. “As long as they don’t benefit from enough education, this category would stay at a low social level. (…) Romania has wasted 20 years and, provided we had focused on children’s education, we would have been a generation with greater chances for integration on any European market,” Campeanu said, who added that the low educational level is also tide to poverty and Romania and the EU should work together to “break this poverty-education chain”. Damian Draghici, the premier’s adviser on Roma issues, shared Campeanu’s view, and added that Roma strategy was “a mockery” and the European money “get stolen” while “grassroots Roma are starving, and, in an year or two, it would be obvious that nothing has been done. “Nothing is being done actually. There are offices made and cars purchased from European money, yet, nothing’s changed,” the PM’s adviser said.The UNICEF representative in Romania Sandie Blanchet says that, while Romania has made some progress, there is international concern that what has been done is not enough.