Towards a European Social Agenda also for Roma

Statement of the European Roma Information Office (ERIO)

The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) welcomes the “renewed” Social Agenda launched by the European Commission on July 2nd 2008, which aims at addressing the challenges of socioeconomic changes taking place in Europe. The fact that over 78 million people are living in poverty in Europe proves the urgent need of re-shaping and implementing more effective policies and legislation for eliminating social exclusion and poverty. Since its establishment, ERIO has been calling upon European institutions and national governments to undertake urgent measures to fight social exclusion faced by Roma. Here, it should be stressed a wide range of studies give account that social exclusion and poverty among Roma is much higher than within the majority society.

Nevertheless, the priorities set up in the “renewed” Social Agenda are drafted in the assumption that Europeans and people residing in Europe, are living in a society of full employment. Constraints of the globalised free markets, which lead to systemic unemployment and the social consequences of this, are not taken into consideration. Those key areas are not oriented to address the needs of people systematically excluded from the labour markets and from accessing social benefits. Furthermore, children do not belong to the labour market and can not be targeted through such policies. The needs of disadvantaged ethnic minorities, as Roma, people living in poverty and especially those living in extreme poverty, are not addressed by the Social Agenda. There is no focus on how these people can access adequate employment, self-employment and social benefits and services which come easily to others.

The European Roma Information Office believes that the new Agenda for a social Europe should be based on a human rights approach, specifically on promoting the societal framework conditions for the full exercising of socio-economic rights by all people living in Europe. The social meaning of the original Lisbon Treaty should be re-affirmed in the renewed Social Agenda.

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ERIO has also developed a Fact Sheet on the renewed Social Agenda to raise awareness among Roma communities on EU developments in the social policy field. ERIO calls upon Roma and Roma rights organisations to advocate for the implementation and improvement of the renewed Social Agenda at national level.

FACT SHEET on The Renewed European Social Agenda

Source: ERIO