15.06.2009Conference on rural poverty took place in Budapest

Rural poverty is an important aspect of European poverty, in particular since rural areas account for a large proportion of European territory and its population. In some Member States the poverty risk in rural areas is double that of urban areas. How to combat the poverty in rural areas discussed politicians, officials from European Commission and the member states, NGO activists, university professors and researchers. This happened during a conference organized by European Commission and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour of Hungary that took place on June 11 and 12 in Budapest. A special Study on Poverty and Social Exclusion in Rural Areas was presented during the conference.

Although Roma were not defined as special topic of the conference many speakers raised questions about the disadvantage situation of Roma in rural areas. Hungarian Minister on Social Affairs Laszlo Herczog explained that Roma poverty is central issue in understanding rural poverty in Hungary. Roma poverty should be addressed through measures for social inclusion, anti-discrimination and targeted measures for development of the most disadvantaged regions. Andor Urmos, responsible for the Roma programs in Hungary provided examples for special measures undertaken by Hungarian government for social inclusion of Roma. Deyan Kolev (Center Amalipe) raised the question about the lack of Roma targeted measures in the National Rural Development Plan in Bulgaria. As a result the implementation of this plan does not touch Roma community and does not improve the situation of Roma in the rural areas, explained Kolev. Biser Alekov from ERGO underlined that Roma are discriminated and powerless that defines their disadvantaged situation.

The participants raised recommendations for urgent changes in the implementation of the National Rural Development Plans that would connect it with Roma social inclusion.

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