Roma Summit Gives Romanian Minister Rough Ride

Romania's Labour Minister, Rovana Plumb, encountered both jeers and cheers in Brussels last week when she told a Roma summit that the "integration of Roma people is a longstanding and steady commitment of Romanian government.

"We have achieved some results in combating poverty and offering jobs to people,” she maintained.

The minister was speaking at the European Roma Summit, which held last week in Brussels.

An estimated 12 million Roma live in the EU, of which Romania is a member. The European Commission, in a report released at the end of the summit in Brussels, noted that some progress has been made in recent years, with more Roma children attending pre-school and public programmes designed to improve access to healthcare, jobs and housing.

However, discrimination against Roma remains widespread, which "has no place in the European Union,” the report also noted.

On the other hand, the reaction from Roma organisations and representatives – around 500 of which were in Brussels – is not always warm toward the EU or to national governments.

“The commitment to combating discrimination and human rights abuses against Roma remains by and large no more than a promise,” the European Roma Rights Center, ERRC, said in a statement.

The ERRC is an international organisation specialising in advocacy and policy development for Roma people.

For Romania, officially home to some 620,000 Roma, the problems are especially daunting. A report released by the rights watchdog Amnesty International last year said Roma people in Romania remained “poverty stricken, persecuted and outcast”.

Many communities are located on the outskirts of cities and are unofficially segregated, with poor housing conditions, and...

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