29.09.2009Second meeting of European Platform for Roma Inclusion took place in Brussels

The second meeting of the European Platform for Roma Inclusion took place in Brussels on September 28. It was co-organized by the Swedish Presidency of the EU (under the lead of the Swedish Ministry of Integration and Gender Equality) and the European Commission (under the lead of DG Employment, Equal Opportunities and Anti-discrimination). The EU Commissioner for Education Jan Figel, the EU Commissioner for Employment Vladimir Spidla, MEPs, representatives of different EU institutions, national governments, international and national Roma NGOs took part in the meeting.

Education of Roma was the main topic of the meeting. In his statement Commissioner Figel outlined that the educational problems faced by Roma are similar in all European countries: low enrollment in pre-school education, school segregation, and early school leaving (high percentage of Roma dropouts). Trust is the crucial ingredient of education: trust and confidence between parents and school, between parents from different ethnoi, etc.; significant efforts for building trust are necessary, explained Commissioner Figel. He insisted that Roma educational integration is not assimilation, it is closely linked with preserving Roma culture and identity. That is why intercultural education is crucial for educational integration.

In his Closing statement Commissioner Spidla pointed that specific measures and approaches are necessary and they should aim to get Roma into mainstream job, mainstream housing and mainstream education. We need both: a specific approach to overcome particular difficulties of very disadvantaged Roma communities and individuals – and a clear focus on providing them with access to the mainstream of our societies, stressed Commissioner Spidla. A holistic approach is necessary. This means that all actors – national governments, NGOs and Roma individuals themselves should be involved in designing and implementing Roma related policies. This also means that policies in area of education can not be separated from those in employment, housing and social affairs. All these things are task of the national governments but European Commission would support their efforts through 4 means: political commitment and leadership, modern non-discrimination legislation, significant financial support through the Structural funds and analytical support in the development of evidence-based policies, explained Mr. Spidla.

Mihai Surdu (Roma Education Fund) presented the main problems Roma face in education and the accents in REF work. Andor Urmosh, Margareta Wiman and Letitia Mark showed good practices for Roma educational integration from Hungary, Sweden and Romania. The participants agreed on the necessity of comprehensive policy for overcoming segregation, improving access to education (decreasing dropout rate, enrolling in pre-school education, etc) and introducing intercultural education.

During the discussion certain disputable questions also appeared. Roma activists stated that the European platform for Roma inclusion in this appearance (as process of good practices exchange) could not contribute significantly for Roma inclusion. Stronger structure with own secretariat, assigning Roma experts in it and incorporating national Roma organizations in the process are important necessary steps but the Commission does not undertake them at present, insisted Roma activists. In this way went also the Statement of the European Roma Policy Coalition distributed during the forum.


Bulgarian government did not send its representatives to the meeting.

Deyan Kolev, Amalipe chairman, was the only representative of national Roma NGO from Bulgaria (and one of the few representatives of national Roma NGOs). In his statement he insisted the necessity of introducing intercultural perspective in the educational systems of European countries. It is not enough only to think about facilitating access of Roma children to schools with good education; it is necessary also to guarantee that school environment would change, accept and integrate Roma children together with the majority students. Intercultural education is the reliable basis for this process, pointed Kolev. He also stressed the necessity of introducing financial stimuli for the process of Roma educational integration and their institutionalization in the countries-members of EU.

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