Slovakia has earmarked approximately €200 million from EU structural funds for Roma integration programs and projects, the Vice-President of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič informed the press after the regional conference in Košice on Wednesday, May 25. He added, as quoted by the SITA newswire, that the drawing of these sources has been rather slow, main because of complicated administrative processes. He pointed out the project of Roma employment implemented by some municipalities in cooperation with U.S. Steel Košice as an example of a successful programme. The non-governmental organisation ETP Slovensko is also running several successful projects.
Although the Roma issue found its way to European Union agenda later than other topics did, it continues to be a hot topic in the European Parliament (EP), said Šefčovič, who also serves as Slovakia's EU Commissioner responsible for institutional relations and administrative affairs. He noted that the EU agenda concerning the Roma issue has become increasingly important and after the Union enlarged - twice in the past decade - the states in Western Europe were surprised to learn how acute the problem is.
The EC in early April called on EU-member states to work out national strategies addressing the issue of integrating Roma communities before 2020. The plan is to use these strategies as the framework for creating the EU strategy in this sphere. The national strategies should address areas such as education, employment, healthcare and housing, and are expected to include targeted measures sufficiently funded by individual states as well as EU resources. "However, it's important to re-assess how resources from EU funds are being used," said EU Commissioner responsible for employment, social affairs and inclusion László Andor (Hungary). He noted that Brussels has "mixed experience" when it comes to the use of EU resources in individual member states.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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26. May 2011 at 14:00