Zoltan Balog told the committee hearing that a community of 10-12 million Roma in Europe, though far from being a homogeneous group, is hit everywhere by deep poverty, unemployment, discrimination and segregation. Balog noted that helping Roma integration would be economically advantageous, too.
Balog told the committee that Hungary had taken considerable risks in making Roma integration one of the presidency’s priorities, accepting the fact that this would draw attention to its own national Roma policies.
Participants at the meeting underlined that it is important that goals formulated by the strategy are implemented in practice and not only on paper and that members of the Roma community are involved, too.
In response Balog noted that the Hungarian government had pledged to create 100,000 jobs and 10,000 scholarships for the Roma both at secondary school and university level.
Balog said after the meeting that the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) had adopted an opinion by a Hungarian rapporteur, Akos Topolanszky, on Roma integration. He added that he had held talks with Staffan Nilsson, the chairman of the EESC, and they were in agreement that the Committee should keep Roma integration on its agenda in future, too.