Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Strasbourg Summit: An Opportunity To Empower Roma

A decision by French authorities to return Roma people to their countries of origin has generated a pan-European debate that should trigger the empowerment of Roma communities.

That is the view of Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, expressed at the opening of the Roma summit meeting of government representatives in Strasbourg on 20 October.

“To little has been done,” he said. “We should use the debate to do more. We can use this situation for a more cooperative approach.

Secretary General Jagland said the results of the Strasbourg summit should prepare the way for more Roma children to attend schools and universities. He also hoped that housing and water supply to Roma settlements would be improved.

“We are trying to empower Roma people,” he declared.

The Secretary General said his organisation wanted to train a minimum of 450 mediators  and 100 lawyers to work with Roma communities in 2011. 

European Union Commissioner Viviane Reding, who also took part in the opening press conference, said the proposal would be integrated into the EU framework.

Ms Reding said last July’s action by French authorities was “a wake up call” for Europe, which put the Roma question “on the table.”

She urged European governments not to forget Roma communities’ social and human problems as they sought to solve legal issues.

The commissioner also confirmed that France had agreed to introduce into French law next Spring changes allowing the free movement of EU citizens.

Ms Reding underlined that EU legal experts would need another four weeks to study documents submitted by France regarding claims that Roma people returned to their countries of origin may have suffered discrimination.

She said infringement was “a question of law, evidence and proof.” The process could not be started on the basis of “feeling.”

No comments:

Post a Comment