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EC's Laszlo Andor, on European funds and the Roma's inclusion


Romania this year too may miss the funds that were allocated to it through the Sectoral Operational Programme Human Resources Development (POSDRU) if the authorities do not speed up the implementation of the measures meant to diminish the risk of financial disengagement, said European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Laszlo Andor on Monday.

'The Romanian Government has implemented a number of actions for improving the absorption of the European funds, but at the same time it is true that the risks of missing the European funds that were allocated for this year have not entirely been removed. I have emphasized the fact that the Romanian authorities must implement the measures necessary for diminishing the disengagement risks and thus stick to a high level of quality for the selection sand checking of the operations. One must learn the lessons of the current programming period so that the negative experiences should be avoided in the future,' said the European Commissioner.

He said that it was absolutely necessary to strengthen the institutional capability in order to prepare the next period of the financial allocation of the European funds, namely 2014-20.'The strengthening of the capability of the institutions to absorb the European funds must be part of the general effort meant to reform the public administration,' said Laszlo Andor.

In the opinion of the European Commission, the 'efforts for improving the management and control system must continue.'

The representative of the European Commission also said that the absorption of the European funds, of the financial resources allocated through the European Social Fund for the entire seven-year time span, namely between 2007 and 2013, was below 20 percent, which is a 'very, very low level.'

'Some important decisions have been made by Romania, now there is a good cooperation between the European Commission and the Romanian authorities, this is why we hope that the risks we have mentioned can be diminished in the time to come,' added Laszlo Andor.

Over 2007-2013 the European Commission allocated Romania the sum of 3.68 billion euros for the development of human resources.

Referring to the talks he held with Minister of Labour Mariana Campeanu on Monday, the European Commissioner said that they focused on the absorption of the European funds for educational policies, employment and especially on the European Social Fund.

In her turn Minister of Labour Mariana Campeanu said that the talk with the representative of the European Commission aimed both at the absorption of the European funds for 2007-2013 and at the preparation of the next programming period, 2014-20.

'We have also discussed the employment programme for young people and the next programming referring to the inclusion of underprivileged people. Another important question that was dealt with was the way in which we should manage the European funds with special emphasis on the education in the next programming period,' added the Minister of Labour.

On Monday European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Laszlo Andor met Minister of Labour Mariana Campeanu. Minister of National Education Remus Procopie and Minister Delegate for Higher Education, Scientific Research and Technological Development Mihnea Cosmin Costoiu attended.

The talks that were held at the headquarters of the Ministry of Labour focused on Romania using the European Social Fund, on preparing the next multiannual financial framework for 2014-20 as well as on employing young people and on social partnership.


Romania fails to make efficient use of EU funds for Roma's inclusion


Romania has failed to make efficient use of the European Union's financial support for the Roma's inclusion, but there is the possibility to overcome the current weak points in the implementation of the national strategy, visiting European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Laszlo Andor said here on Monday.

In spite of the good things it has done, Romania still has two problems to resolve. Firstly, it has not used sufficient resources from the structural funds for the Roma's inclusion and, secondly, the investments have not always been in keeping with the expectations. According to my information, around 33,000 Roma were involved in the project funded via the European Social Fund in Romania, much below the 65,000 participants set for the current programming period, explained Andor, who is paying a two-day official visit to Romania.

He said ‘considerable effort is necessary to make up for the lost time'.

As regards the opportunities for the Roma's - or Gypsies' - social inclusion in the next programming period of 2014-2020, the commissioner underscored that being encouraged are the investments in the Roma's integration into the job market, in preventing early school drop-out and improving the access to health and social services.

According to him, Romania must foster sustained dialogue with all the players involved in the Roma's inclusion, with the civil society, the social partners and the local authorities.

The discussions for the 2014-2020 outline are still at an informal phase, but now the national contact point should get involved, namely the National Agency for the Roma, the Roma's nongovernmental organisations and the experts, Andor stressed.

The commissioner concluded by saying the Roma's inclusion should not be seen as a cost, but as social investment in human capital, which will be decisive for attaining the objectives of the Europa 2020 Strategy, for sustainable and inclusive growth.

According to the chairman of Together Community Development Agency Gelu Duminica, there are around one million Roma living in Romania at present.

The United Nations Representative Office in Romania and the Together Community Development Agency, with the support of the European Commission Resident Office in Romania staged an international conference on Monday on the topic of the Strategies for the Roma's Inclusion - From Good Intentions to Results.

The conference was opened by Romanian Labour Minister Mariana Campeanu and Commissioner Andor.


Campeanu: Labour Ministry initiates cooperation with WB for the social and economic status of Roma


Romania's Ministry of Labour, Family Affairs, Social Security and the Elderly has initiated the process of contacting the World Bank for a study in the social and economic status of Romania's Roma community in order to identify investment priorities for the 2014-2020 perspective of the European Social Fund, Labour Minister Mariana Campeanu said Monday.

'The Labour Ministry is very concerned about the next financial perspective for the European Social Fund. We have contacted the World Bank for a study in the social and economic status of Romania's Roma community, an important study because over the past 20 years many projects have been released on European funds, much money was spent and to some degree results were obtained,' she said.

Campeanu mentioned that the study would reveal the exact position in time and what is to be done in the future financial perspective for an efficient use of European funds.In her opinion, the solution for the integration of the Roma people consists in providing adequate education.

'I strongly believe that the main problem we have to solve relates to the education of the Roma people. As long as their children do not get educated enough, they will stay on a lower social level, and this is true for all the children in the world,' said Campeanu.

In relation to the educational attainment of children in the Roma communities, resident coordinator of US agencies in Romania Sandie Blanchet presented some statistic indicating that the Roma people are among the poorest and most excluded citizens. While 8 per cent of Romanian children are living in abject poverty, the percentage reaches 35 per cent nationwide in the case of Roma children and 41 per cent in the countryside, which proves a high level of inequity. As far as pre-school education is concerned, the enrolment of Roma children is below the national level of 40 per cent. Roma children are facing increased dropout rates, as more than 75 per cent of them fail to graduate from the 8th grade, Blanchet told an international conference on Monday in Bucharest on inclusion strategies for the Roma people.