I shall miss them...

The plenary session continued this morning with a very heavy agenda, in both quantitative and qualitative terms. Alongside a number of heavyweight and interconnected opinions on such topics as a new financial system for the internal market, practical initiatives for the economic recovery, green jobs, financing structures for SMEs and the interconnectedness of business registers, were two very well-researched opinions on the EU’s strategy for the Danube region and the EU’s multingualism policy. But beyond all of these, the plenary adopted a resolution on the situation of the Roma in the European Union. The full text of the resolution is below. The adoption of such resolutions is rare in the life of the Committee and is significant in itself. The rarity meant also that the plenary got embroiled in some procedural confusion but, in the end, the resolution was adopted and speaks for itself.

RESOLUTION of the European Economic and Social Committee on the situation of the Roma in the European Union

16 Sep 2010

1. The Committee strongly condemns discriminatory actions against the Roma or any ethnic minority groups. The EESC has always strived to defend the fundamental rights of all people living in the European Union and to oppose all forms of discrimination directed at national minorities, as well as racism and xenophobia. The entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty has strengthened the regulatory and policy framework for such efforts and the instruments to implement them.

2. Moreover, the Committee has always strongly supported the right of all Union citizens and their families to move and reside freely, in accordance with EU law.

3. The Committee has always called forcefully for active social inclusion policies in favour of minorities and migrants, in particular the Roma.

4. Furthermore, the EESC wishes to express its commitment to the principle of the rule of law, according to which the responsibility for any act, including possible criminal acts, must always be individual responsibility.

5. The Committee, aware that the problems associated with the integration of the Roma are primarily a matter for the Member States concerned, nevertheless stresses the responsibility of the EU under the new treaty and the need to find a response at EU level, both to take into account the specific circumstances of the Roma populations and to ensure equal treatment throughout EU territory.

6. The Committee actively advocates the economic and social integration of the Roma population, like that of other minorities and migrants, and proposes to the EU institutions the establishment of a comprehensive strategy which is credible to the Member States in order to bring about genuine integration based on the common rights and obligations of all EU citizens. Such a strategy must be built in a participatory way by involving Roma communities and be supported by funding which is consistent with and appropriate to the major challenges at hand.