Today, in the European Parliament, the Open Society Foundation hosted a conference titled „National Roma Strategies – Ensuring a Comprehensive and Effective European Approach”. In her video message, MEP Lívia Járóka urged to draw lessons of the so called "Decade of Roma Inclusion Program"; the strict and independent monitoring of Roma inclusion projects and full compliance with the principles and schedule of the recently adopted European Framework for National Roma Strategies.
MEP Lívia Járóka, Rapporteur of the EU Strategy on Roma Inclusion reminded that despite significant institutional and financial input, the Decade of Roma Inclusion had not yielded the expected results. The situation of European Roma Program did not improve in the past years rather deteriorated weakening Europe’s social cohesion as a whole. According to Járóka, one of the most important conclusions of the program was that a clear and strict distinction must be made between good practices and those projects that had obviously failed. "For this purpose, it is necessary to extend the scope and stiffen the rules of monitoring"- she highlighted.
Járóka, who herself is of Roma origin also pointed out that it was equally important to create a catalogue of “worst practices”. This list would contain past mistakes and would be complemented with a register of those projects that were successful, but some limited and specific factors made them impossible to be transposed under different circumstances. Járóka underlined that despite its doubtful results, the Decade Program introduced numerous good proposals and ideas to build on – for instance it was the first ever framework which bought together EU Member States with candidate countries to cooperate fostering Roma social inclusion.
She expressed her hope that the European Framework for National Roma Strategies would be able to remedy the shortcomings of the Decade in terms of coordination and cooperation. The European Commission as an independent and multi-sector body had undertaken the role of supervising, coordinating, and monitoring the strategy as well as harmonizing national action plans and the EU framework. Járóka finally welcomed the European Commission's recent confirmation to present specific recommendations for revising national strategies and to report annually on the progress of integration and the achievement of goals. This would be in accordance with the EP report and would only happen after thorough evaluation on professional substantiation, complexity and financial feasibility of the strategies.
The full-day conference was opened by George Soros, Chairman of the Open Society Institute, under the patronageof Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament and with the participation of the EP’s group leaders, EU and government officials as well as representatives of international Roma organizations.